Love is in the air; potential problems with workplace romances

Is love in the air in your workplace? As an employer have you ever thought of the problems associated with workplace romances? Here, we get to the heart of the topic by looking at how to effectively deal with relationships in the office.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), revealed that 41 per cent of office workers have experienced a romantic relationship in the workplace. With figures higher than a lot of us probably expected, this topic definitely deserves discussion.

Here, we reveal the potential problems that can arise as the result of workplace romances and how to effectively deal with them.

workplace romances

A ban is a no-no!

While as an employer you may deem it appropriate to have an all-out ban on personal relationships at work, this is both unrealistic and a breach of the Human Rights Act. A blanket ban on romantic relationships is likely to aggravate employees, fuel the relationship and create friction between the employer and employee, not to mention the potential law suits that could arise.

workplace romances

Make it clear

Having a clear policy will ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand. In the policy, define what you deem as “inappropriate conduct” in the workplace, which could lead to disciplinary action. It is also worth outlining a broad ban on “intimate behaviour” while at work, such as kissing, holding hands or touching. The employer is also within their rights to ensure couples keep communications at work, strictly professional, which extends to electronic communications. For example, sending and receiving emails, should not focus on subjects which are not related to work. Employees should be made aware that management have the right to monitor such exchanges and intervene if necessary.

workplace romances

Talk is cheap

Often the biggest worry about workplace romances is the exchange of information between the two parties. Employees should be made aware that it is a breach of their contract to share confidential information. This extends to discussing the proceedings in meetings, staff changes or other commercially sensitive information. Again, this is an area which can be outlined in the company’s policy, highlighting that discussing confidential matters with a partner can lead to disciplinary action.

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When love becomes heartbreak

The breakup of a work relationship often has the biggest impact on the workplace. When relationships turn sour, this can lead to a feeling of unease between the two individuals involved with the impact being felt by the rest of the workplace. And of course, not forgetting the headache it can give a manager! In order to deal with this effectively, having a rule in your policy, which states that employees should inform management if there is a change in their personal relationship, can help with this. Notifying employers gives management time to address any potential problems early, as well as reminding employees of what is expected of them in the workplace, in light of the separation.

Workplace romances

Refrain from playing cupid

It’s worth bearing in mind, that sexual harassment can take a wide variety of forms. In the employment tribunal case of Craddock v Fontoura t/a Countyclean, the business owner’s behaviour was deemed as sexual harassment after he frequently suggested that a male and female colleague should form a relationship. Despite honourable intentions, the employer’s need to play cupid between staff was unwelcome.

workplace romances

In summary, office romances aren’t always hearts and flowers. Employees are entitled to a private life, and employers should only interfere when this has a direct impact on the workplace. Consult HR can help you with your staffing problems. If you need help with this, contact one of our HR experts on 078 5808 9006 or get in touch here.

Starbucks Dyslexia Discrimination Case

Starbucks Found To Have Discriminated Against An Employee Who Was Dyslexic

Dyslexia is said to affect around 10% of people within the UK, but the problem for employers is that it is often seen as an invisible disability and is not detected until something goes wrong.

Recently a Starbucks employee with Dyslexia won a disability discrimination case against her employer, after being wrongly accused of falsifying documents.

An employment tribunal found that Meseret Kumulchew had faced discrimination after making mistakes due to her difficulty with reading and writing. She was accused of purposely falsifying documents after she had mistakenly entered the wrong water and fridge temperatures.
 

The tribunal found that Starbucks had committed several wrong doings

  • Discrimination – They discriminated against the employee because of her dyslexia.
  • Victimisation – They victimised the employee by demoting her and making her feel unable to do the job due to her disability.
  • Reasonable Adjustments – Starbucks also failed to make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate Meseret Kumulchew’s disability.

The Disability Discrimination Act covers dyslexia; therefore all workplaces need to comply with it. There are a number of steps employers should take to identify and support the needs of a dyslexic employee:

 

  • Understand what it is

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Although it is more than just a literacy problem – it can also cause problems with short-term memory and with tasks that involve using sequences.  It is a condition that cannot be cured, but the difficulties it causes can be alleviated with appropriate intervention and specialist support.

 

  • Treat each dyslexic person as an individual, everyone is different.

Dyslexia will affect people in different ways. It is important that employers are aware of the nature of individual’s dyslexia and how it affects them in the work place. This will try to determine and help provide the appropriate support. Failure to do so will mean an employee will not be able to demonstrate their full potential in the work place.

  • Adapt your recruitment procedures. 
Completing forms is something that is feared by many dyslexic people. Therefore changes to size, style and layout of text will help with this. If an applicant reveals they are dyslexic, it is important to remember that dyslexia affects everyone differently. Do not assume you know the way it might affect their performance within a particular role. If psychometric testing or other selection processes are required, a dyslexic person may need extra time or other methods of writing or recording information.

 

  •  Consider training needs

Many dyslexic employees’ fail to progress within their careers because they are hesitant to undergo any further training, fearing that their difficulties will be exposed to others. Tasks such as note taking or reading training material can be a frightening process for dyslexic people, especially when they have to work quickly in front of others. It is important that trainers and line managers are aware of these issues and discuss any support options with the employee concerned. This may include the use of recording equipment during presentations.

 

  • Making reasonable adjustments

Once you identify that an employee has a disability, you as he employer has a legal requirement under the Disability Discrimination Act to consider reasonable adjustments.  As dyslexia will affect people differently it is important that you know how it affects each individual within your work place and make reasonable adjustments to help accommodate them. The British Dyslexia Association has determined the most appropriate adjustments that can be made for particular individuals according to their needs, wither it is written or verbal communications or time and work planning. These can be viewed in the link below.
http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/employer/reasonable-adjustments

 

Costs

Employers found to have discriminated against an employee on the grounds of disability could face huge financial penalties, the compensation awards for discrimination cases are unlimited.

 

Contact Consult HR today if you need assistance with managing a process involving employees suffering from a disability.