Should your company put a damper on employee dating, or let love bloom – carefully? There’s no one correct decision. However you decide to proceed, setting down a clear policy both protects your company and better serves employees. While you should always involve expert legal help in shaping your employee dating policy, this article can give you an overview of issues to consider.
Know what the law says
Colleagues who decide to start a romantic relationship aren’t violating any federal law, even if one person is higher ranking than or the supervisor of the other. But some situations that can arise when a manager dates a lower-ranking employee are against the law. For example, it’s illegal for a manager to give a worker she is dating perks that other employees don’t get, like extra time off or a special parking space. There’s also the risk that, if the relationship ends, the employee could claim retaliation if the manager then gives him a poor performance review.
Set rules on supervisor-employee relationships
Because of that risk, one of your priorities for an employee dating policy should be determining rules for supervisors and employees. You don’t have to prohibit manager-subordinate relationships, but such a ban is common in policies on employee dating, according to HR professional Jennifer Burton writing for thenest.com.
If you choose to allow such relationships, you should consider other precautions, such as requiring the manager to disclose the relationship to HR or to her own supervisor, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Having a third party aware of the relationship can help head off any potential problems. To further reduce the risk of future lawsuits, you could also mandate that employees (at any level) who wish to date must sign a consensual relationship contract. By signing the contract, the employees confirm that the relationship is consensual and that they understand your company’s sexual harassment policies and what happens if they don’t follow them.