Reading time: 3 minutes

Ain’t love grand? As an employer, your answer to that question may be, ‘sometimes, no’. While it is commonplace for romance to spark in the workplace, the practical ramifications of workplace relationships, particularly when the relationship turns sour, can be plainly uncomfortable and awkward.

While you can’t stop love, as an employer, there are some practical steps you can take to manage this issue in the workplace:

Have in place proper policies

Policy documents set out how employees will conduct themselves in the workplace, and can detail such things as interoffice communications, no touching or explicitly sexual conduct and the like. By having it in writing, your employees will know precisely what is required of them.

Require disclosure at the outset

While it may not be comfortable, it is important that inter-office romances are disclosed so they can be managed. Putting in place a system of disclosure will ensure you have the information needed to manage your team in such circumstances.

Be aware of your legal rights

In the recent case of M v Westpac Banking Corporation [2015] the Fair Work Commission upheld the employer’s decision to terminate M’s employment based on, among other things, his romance with a member of staff under his management. Here, the commission indicated to employers and employees alike that dismissal can be justified due to the various ramifications which may arise as a result of an office affair and, in particular, failure to disclose same to the employer.

Be aware of your legal obligations

In a recent case before the Fair Work Commission, an employer was found to have unfairly dismissed an employee and was ordered to pay her maximum compensation after her employment was terminated in circumstances where she had obtained a ‘restraining order’ (as they are commonly referred) against a co-worker, who also happened to be her former spouse. Just because such arrangements made things inconvenient or uncomfortable, did not give the employer the right to terminate.

Take employee concerns seriously

If an employee comes to you with an issue or a complaint arising from, for example, witnessing something between the star crossed lovers usually reserved for out of office hours, it is important you take action. Counselling sessions should be held and followed up, and the process documented. When necessary or there is a threat of sexual harassment, legal advice should be sought immediately.

Conclusion

If you are having ongoing issues with inter-office romances, or are concerned about the ramifications of same on your workplace generally, and want to know what you can and can’t do in relation to the issue, talk to an employment lawyer who will be able to guide you through the issues, and ensure you and your business are not the ones left, well, heartbroken!

Webinars

How to Recover Unpaid Invoices

Thursday 13 May | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
What do you do if your customers don't pay your invoices? Attend this webinar to learn about how to recover unpaid invoices.
Register Now

Trade Marks 101

Thursday 17 June | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Your trade mark is one of the most valuable assets of your business. It is therefore crucial to understand how to protect your trade mark, avoid disputes, and prevent competitors from infringing on your rights.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation – Finalist – Australasian Law Awards 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice – Winner – Australasian Lawyer 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer