A recent US study reported that 10% of married couples meet as colleagues. With the amount of time spent in the office this number is unsurprising. However, office romances can cause problems for employers – this can range from a drop in productivity, to conflict of interest or a costly harassment claim.
As an employer, you must remember that it is not just the romantic and emotional relationships (spouses and friendships) that you need to be alert to. Platonic relationships can still cause conflicts: immediate family, other close relationships such as cousins and in-laws, or financial relationships between staff members and clients.
Your staff should carry out their duties to the best of their abilities and certify that they avoid any conflict of interest where possible. It is important that personal relationships do not influence business decisions and interactions with other staff or clients.
Relationship policies set a criteria for conflicting interests?
Relationship policies can help mitigate any issues should any relationships develop or a relationship cause a conflict with any persons of interest to your business.
Relationship policies set a criteria for conflicting interests, for example they ensure the ability to remove an employee from the decision-making process should there be a particular relationship which could potentially result in bias.
To make things more complex, it’s worth remembering that it’s possible for employees and potential employees to make a claim of adverse action on the grounds of not being appointed due to their relationship, for example an employee’s marital status, so employers need to tread carefully.
More tips at www.couplecheckup.com.au, tune in next week…
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