UK offices simmering with passion

Feb 11 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The UK’s offices are hotbeds of romance, new research suggests, with workplace romances getting so out of hand that one in ten people say that they have had to resign from a job because they got too involved with a colleague.

According to research carried out by Employment law firm Peninsula and Portfolio Payroll, a quarter of employees felt that their relationships have caused problems at work and the vast majority of employees – almost nine out of ten - can remember an office romance that caused problems at work.

More than seven in ten employees admitted to going out with a colleague at some point in their career, while more than six out of ten said that they met their current partner at work.

For a quarter of employees, a relationship has caused problems with colleagues or managers – perhaps one reason why only five per cent would consider having a relationship with their boss.

Portfolio Payroll’s Danny Done said that firms should set out clear guidelines on employee relationships to protect themselves and to ensure that staff do not become too distracted from their work.

“Disciplinary issues concerning relationships are a difficult area for bosses as resentment among employees can be harmful if managers exert too much control over personal situations,” he said.

"This makes is all the more important to make rules clear in employees contracts if you decide that you will attempt to control workplace relationships.

"My advice to businesses is to have clear rules on external relationships with competitors and suppliers for those rules to be clearly written into employee contracts.

"Staff should be aware that conduct in relation to other employees must be within acceptable boundaries or they risk disciplinary action.

"Finally, managers should be trained to deal with sensitive issues, in case a problem emerges. Relationships are becoming more common at work, partly because people spend more time socialising with colleagues.

"This is all the more reason to make the rules governing relationships clear.”