here Be sure to include behavior expectations and prohibit interactions such as inappropriate physical contact during work hours. Avoid the potential risk of sexual harassment litigation by either prohibiting supervisors or managers from dating their direct reports or implement a policy in which when a relationship blossoms, the direct report switches to a different supervisor.
However, you can communicate with the two parties the expectations of discussing confidential company information with one another during pillow talk. This seems to be the overwhelming favorite for smaller companies or companies that are just starting to formalize employee training. Often a CEO or president will look at the potential for risk and weigh that against the ability to police and enforce a policy.
For many smaller companies, they choose to go without a policy, and let the rules on harassment and discrimination do the job. Note that you should always have a policy prohibiting and enforcing sexual harassment and discrimination.
You can ban it. This is another common method, known as an "anti-fraternization policy.
You have to define and often describe the conduct you want to prohibit. Will the policy restrict casual dating, relationships, romantic involvement, or socializing? Can you even define those terms? I can tell you that the last place you want a policy defined is in the courts. A less restrictive policy that a lot of companies have is one preventing nepotism--prohibiting spouses or relatives from working at the same company or preventing employees from supervising related coworkers.
You can allow it, with written disclosure. This is commonly known as the "Love Contract" approach. A signed document will confirm a consensual relationship and provide additional notice of understanding of the sexual harassment policy.
You can often use the contract process to outline expected behavior like no "PDA"--public displays of affection--at work or retaliation if the relationship ends. Make sure that you inform the employees that they have a right to and should talk to a lawyer before signing. You can allow it, but never within the chain of authority.
While this policy is easier to sell to employees most are not inside each other's reporting chain , you still have a lot of the same problems about defining conduct and what is not allowed. You can also have employees report a romantic relationship to a company representative, like an HR official. This can lead to awkward encounters, and the potential for claims of sexual harassment and retaliation.
Retaliation can take many forms: In some states, privacy laws prevent an employer from restricting employee relationships—unless a conflict of interest is involved. A romantic relationship between a supervisor and subordinate provides the potential for a conflict and the opportunity for the employer to require a love contract. Lieber , an employment law attorney and founder of Workplace Answers. Establish an employee dating policy. When designing the policy, choose between full freedom, freedom with restrictions, or freedom with disclosure.
No one wants to feel policed, so keep the employee dating policy focused on the specific behaviors that disrupt the office vs. Broadcast your sexual harassment policy. Have a formal sexual harassment policy posted in the office and included in your employee handbook. Train employees that the company has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and require employees to sign a document indicating they understand the policy.
Additionally, use of love contracts is a way to mitigate risk of sexual harassment liability.
No-dating policies generally ban dating between a supervisor and their subordinate. Sexual comments and disruptive behavior can render a workplace uncomfortable and unproductive. Employers could potentially be barred from banning workplace romances as a violation of the employee's constitutional right to privacy. When designing the policy, choose between full freedom, freedom with restrictions, or freedom with disclosure. Make sure that you inform the employees that they have a right to and should talk to a lawyer before signing. Note that you should always have a policy prohibiting and enforcing sexual harassment and discrimination. There will foreseeably be claims of favoritism, or even discrimination or harassment.
Train managers and supervisors.