Happy Valentine's Day! With today supposedly being the day where love will blossom, let's have a quick look at some of the potential employment law implications involving office romances:
Can an employer prevent personal relationships at work?
Well an employer could try but the reality is that such relationships are simply more likely to be conducted in secret. There could also be potential Human Rights Act challenges to such a prohibition because of the right to a private and family life.
Can an employer require its employees to disclose such personal relationships?
Yes, this can be included in an internal policy or even in the contract of employment. There might be certain reasons why an employer would need to know, for example, they might need to put extra steps in place to safeguard confidential information or avoid a conflict of interests. It is likely to be a disciplinary offence if an employee fails to report their relationship.
What about dealing with unrequited love?
A comprehensive anti-harassment policy and training for employees so that they clearly understand the boundaries is essential to help ensure that employees do not feel sexually harassed. Managers should also be trained to watch out for any signs of inappropriate behaviour at work as an employer can be held liable for the acts of its employees.
St Valentine was a priest from Rome who lived in the third century, thought to have died around 270 AD. At the time, Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages as he thought single men made better soldiers. Being a romantic chap, St Valentine was arranging and performing marriages in secret so couples could still celebrate their love. Unfortunately, the Emperor got wind of this and imprisoned Valentine, sentencing him to death for his crime. One account suggests that, whilst imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and on the day of his execution (February 14th) he sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine.’