Managers far from love-struck about office romances

Feb 11 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Monday may be Valentine’s Day, but getting all gooey and romantic in the office is increasingly being frowned upon in British workplaces.

The TUC has warned that employers are getting tougher when it comes to trying to restrict or control relationships between their staff.

Its warning has come as a poll by recruitment firm has shown Britain’s culture of long working hours is helping to make office romances much more commonplace.

Its online poll of 5,271 people found that more than six out of 10 women admitted to having had an affair of some sort at work, while more than half – 57 per cent - of men said they had experienced an office romance.

Overall, a staggering 60 per cent of British workers had been involved with a colleague at some time or another.

But all this amorousness meant some companies were trying to copy their counterparts in the US, where relationship bans and “love contracts” are already commonplace, warned the TUC.

The good news for love-struck workers is that UK employees have more legal protection for their privacy and rights to association (including the 1998 Human Rights Act) than workers in the US, the TUC added.

This means employers trying to play chaperone could find their more heavy-handed approaches are unenforceable here.

TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Of course it is right to be careful and think through all the implications, but heavy handed rules and blanket bans fail to understand human nature and may very well be illegal."

The union body has put together a guide to help employees find out where they stand on relationships at work, what to do when they happen, what to do when they break up and what to do if you want to say no. It is at: