2 mins to read

Office romances

Companies are cracking down.

David Farrar
Sun, 12 Jan 2014

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Companies are cracking down on office romances, with bosses increasingly being asked to sign contracts promising not to have sex with staff – or if they do, they must declare the liaison to avoid conflicts.

Air New Zealand confirmed it has introduced a formal code for its 80 senior executives. Another company has banned senior staff from sexual relationships with co-workers, even if both parties are single. 

That reminds me of the policy I drew up many years ago for Curia, soon after we established. It basically said we don’t care who you sleep with so long as it doesn’t interfere with the job, with the exception of two named staffers. The joke, being they were brother and sister.

Another amusing incident was when one of my managers confessed to me at a staff party that she had a big crush on one of the staff, but she couldn’t do anything about it, as he reported to her. She was delighted when I said that actually they could go out, so long as I’m aware of the relationship and hence if ever there were employment issues, I’d handle them. They, umm, got together that night and have been together for around two years now!

Many years ago I did work for an organisation there the CEO and the 2ic were having a secret relationship (both were single) and it did cause problems as you felt reluctant to talk to the CEO about issues with the 2IC, knowing they were together (we discovered the relationship through their 3 am mobile phone calls to each other!).

Generally it is silly to try and ban workplace romances, but if they involve direct reports that can cause problems. The key is to have a policy that discloses them, so decisions can be taken on a case by case basis.

Also reminds me of how many years ago a friend of mine was hauled before a disciplinary committee of partners in her accounting/law firm for her relationships with clients. I jokingly suggested to her that she says that if it is inappropriate for a lawyer to sleep with a client, then she expects them to also crack down on partners sleeping with their secretaries. By pure coincidence, it turns out the chair of the disciplinary committee was sleeping with his secretary, and they took no action as they thought she knew about the affair. In fact it was just a lucky guess that at least one of them would be.

Political commentator David Farrar is principal at Curia Market Research. He posts at Kiwiblog.

David Farrar
Sun, 12 Jan 2014
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Office romances