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Should offices have relationship policies?

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As it is Valentine’s Day there is a tendency to think about romance, roses and heart shaped paraphernalia, but is there a place for it in the office?

Some workplaces have strict policies on work based relationships, whether it is between members of staff, with customers or with bosses, while others turn a blind eye.

XpertHR have conducted a survey of 200 human resources professionals working in the UK in order to gain a picture of the differing attitudes.

Only one in ten of the companies that were featured in the study had a straight forward policy on workplace relationships which wasn’t incorporated into wider conduct rules.

Putting guidance on the issue as part of an ethics section is one way to work it into a contract or company handbook, but it does run the risk of being overlooked.

This may be because a formal caveat is needed in case a situation becomes unmanageable but some bosses are prepared to turn a blind eye to office romances as long as they do not interfere with the job or level of professionalism.

Two-thirds of respondents said that their company had no policy in place to deal with relationships at work, which could leave managers in an awkward position when dealing with an over amorous couple.

Some organisations require employees to inform the human resources department if they embark on a relationship with a co-worker and most bosses avoid the subject.

Of those managers who tackle the subject head on, the most likely approach is to have an informal chat with those concerned in order to minimise disruption.

When analysing the types of relationships which are most frowned upon, one-third of respondents said that those between bosses and employees were prohibited.

A further one in six said they were banned from romantic liaisons with customers and one in seven said couples coming from within the same team were not allowed.

It emerged recently that nearly a third of those who take part in an office romance end up wedded to their colleague.