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Can Employers Regulate Workplace Romance?

Can Employers Regulate Workplace Romance?


The topic of workplace romance can be controversial. Employees may not intend to become romantically interested in one another, but working together for a long period of time may result in such a relationship. On the other hand, employers may worry about potential negative consequences of workplace romance, including sexual harassment lawsuits, fallout in morale if the relationship ends, and potential charges of favoritism or discrimination.

Regulating relationships between employees is legal in most states, but it is important to check the local labor laws in your state before enacting a policy. Additionally, the way that you choose to regulate your employees’ relationships can have unintended consequences.

Einstein HR can help employers with human resources needs, including the development of policies regulating workplace romance. If you are a new or small business owner with limited experience handling these matters, our decades of combined HR experience can be a boon to you.

Options for Regulating Workplace Romance

Every business is unique and may require unique policies regarding employee romance. These policies can span the gap from relaxed standards to a total ban on workplace romance, and each of them has its own positive and negative consequences.

Total Ban on Romance Between Employees

For employers worried about potential lawsuits down the line, a total ban on coworker relationships can seem like the optimal choice. While it is true that such a policy can reduce the risk of legal issues, it comes with many downsides. First, it often is extremely difficult to effectively enforce, since the employer does not follow the employees home every day. Secondly, a total ban can decrease morale and may lead to the loss of workers who wish to date but are prohibited from doing so. As with any employee turnover, such a loss represents missed value and additional costs to train new employees.

Banning Relationships Within a Department

One possible alternative to a total employee romance ban is the banning of relationships only when they are between employees who work together in the same department. Employers sometimes use this method so that they do not decrease morale by totally prohibiting romance but retain some level of protection regarding promotions, favoritism, and similar issues. Unfortunately, intradepartmental relationship bans still may result in the loss of employees who wish to date but work in the same department. They also suffer from the problem of being difficult to enforce.

Banning Romance Between Managers and Subordinates

A common method, and perhaps the most effective, is to ban relationships between employees when one employee has administrative or institutional power over the other. This is effective primarily because it protects the company from accusations of favoritism or unequal treatment as well as sexual harassment. It also leads to less employee turnover, as there are fewer employees in positions of power who are affected by such a policy. Still, as with any romance regulation, the policy may be difficult to effectively enforce.

Get an HR Outsourcing Company to Help

Developing a clear, concise, and useful policy on employee romance can be difficult—especially for new and small business owners. Though Einstein HR has worked with companies with as few as five employees and with a workforce of over 500, we are especially poised to help those small and new business owners with outsourced human resource services.

We have experience handling the creation and enforcement of policy and procedure manuals that include sexual harassment policies and regulations on workplace romance. But our services are not limited to those issues. We provide companies with wholesale HR services, replacing or assisting your own in-house HR and accounting staff, and we also allow client business owners to select from our services in an a la carte fashion. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Payroll management
  • Legal compliance
  • Employee benefits administration
  • Online access portals for employees and owners
  • Safety procedures
  • Risk reduction

Maybe you are concerned with how a ban on employee relationships can work in your particular industry. Einstein HR has been the PEO or HR outsourcing firm of choice for companies in a variety of industries, and we have the necessary experience to handle your needs. Some of our past client businesses have been involved in industries like:

  • Real Estate
  • Law
  • Retail
  • Construction

In fact, our portfolio of clients has boosted us to a coveted spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing United States companies.

Speak to an Einstein HR Representative Today

Einstein HR provides prospective clients with a FREE, no-obligation quote on our services so that you can feel comfortable in your HR outsourcing choice. To get in touch with a representative, call 770-962-1700 or fill out the form on our contact page. We will return your inquiry within 48 hours to start creating a profile of the services your company needs.

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