As a business owner, you may find that protecting your Practice can sometimes conflict with respecting the personal lives of your employees. One common situation is when you have to address personal relationships between your employees. Generally, the personal lives of your employees should be none of your concern. But, this may not be true if two employees become romantically involved. When a relationship is going well, there may be no conflict at all. However, the problems typically arise when a relationship ends.
How do you protect your business while acknowledging the fact that office romances are common? Some companies choose to ban office romances entirely. This may not be realistic, given the amount of time that workers spend at their jobs. Plus, an outright ban is more likely to lead to dishonesty and denials which could lead to you losing two employees if termination is a recourse. Limited bans which only apply to relationships between supervisors and those they oversee are better. This is because these types of relationships (in which the parties are not equal in terms of their employment roles) can lead to very high risk sexual harassment claims and can put your office in jeopardy. This type of relationship restriction is much more common, and more tailored to protecting your interests.
Some businesses take additional steps, such as requiring disclosure of all office romances, and requiring employees to sign a “relationship agreement” making it clear that the relationship is consensual and not connected to their work. Whether you believe such steps are necessary is a personal decision, but one you should make before any issues arise. Whatever your position on office romances, make sure that you treat all instances in the same fashion, and that you address any discrimination or harassment claims immediately.
Do you feel your Practice may need assistance with romantic relationships in your practice? HR for Health is dedicated to supporting practices across the nation in dealing with complex matters.