HR’s golden rules for office romance

Office romance is fraught with problems, not least for the HR professionals who have to step in when it turns sour. Weighing fairness against people’s right to privacy and the possibility of corporate legal liability is a major challenge. Fortunately, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has lots of advice on the subject here. If you don’t have time to read the full article, please read our summary of the highlights below.


– Workplace romance is on the rise, even against the backdrop of remote and hybrid working. Banning it simply isn’t realistic. Love will find a way! So if companies don’t want to drive office romance underground or send their talented lovebirds to the welcoming arms of competitors, they must develop policies to manage it.


 – When two colleagues become romantically involved, the couple should report the relationship to HR. HR should then move one or both individuals to another position in the company if there is a subordinate/manager situation or another potential conflict. HR also needs to make the call on whether romantically-involved peers should remain on the same team. While full disclosure to HR of a romantic relationship should be mandatory, the strictness of the policy will be tailored to office culture and company size.


.- HR needs to develop a formal policy about inter-staff relationships and communicate it clearly to all staff via the employee handbook, onboarding sessions and/or sexual-harassment training.


– HR should document everything, e.g., the formal acknowledgement of a relationship and related company communications. Whatever the future holds, this protects both parties involved and, indeed, the company.


– Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) should be banned.


– HR needs to treat office relationships with discretion particularly when one party (or both) is married. Ditto for LGBTQ relationships. Not all members of the LGBTQ community are comfortable about going public regarding their sexual orientation at work.


– HR opinion is divided as regards ‘love contracts’ whereby employees sign a document stating they’re in a consensual relationship and agree to certain standards of behaviour at work. Such agreements can be helpful in terms of protecting the company in the event of a harassment claim further down the line.


We hope you found the above article useful. For further reading, CIPD members can access valuable resources here. If there are any other HR topics that you’d like us to put in the spotlight in future newsletters, please let us know. ABL Recruitment – your trusted, expert recruitment partner – is, as always, here to help!