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

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards