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Why do some companies ask their employees to disclose romantic relationships with coworkers? Is the company somehow exposed to legal liability otherwise?

My instinct is such relationships are none of HR's business yet the associated drama almost seem to justify it. However I can't see what can be gained from it, or what HR can do if things turn sour. What is your experience on this from the employer's perspective?

This question is tagged UK but feel free to mentioned other territories where appropriate.

Background: I was watching The Office and it came up.

Edit: The following questions are related:

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  • @HLGEM [+1], the links contain "breadcrumbs" to the issue, yet they don't seem to explain what HR can do about it, or why they'd want to know – rath Jan 30 '14 at 19:21
  • that is why I didn't vote to close. – HLGEM Jan 30 '14 at 19:23
  • When it's exposed on the evening news. – Meredith Poor Jan 30 '14 at 19:25
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    In some places where lots of money is present (like a bank), there are usually precautions that make it hard for a single employee to steal money; getting actual access usually requires another employee present. And you can't just use another employee to conspire with you to steal, because he or she will report you. With a married or otherwise couple working together, they can get around such anti-theft measures. (That's what I was told by a bank auditor who wasn't allowed to audit the branch where his wife worked). – gnasher729 Jul 10 '14 at 14:43
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What HR can do is make sure the two people are not in a work relationship where there might be a conflict of interest by moving one of the people to a different job. They can also be monitoring the work environment around the relationship to make sure things aren't going sour or affecting others. They can be looking to see if there appears to be an element of coercion on the part of the more senior to the more junior.

If there are financial accesses involved, internal controls might be bypassed with a relationship, so they are particularly aware of those times when both people needed to sign off on an action have a relationship because that makes it much easier to commit fraud.

Relationships at work are 100% of the time HR's business because they always affect the work. Whether the actual effect is acceptable or not is HRs job to determine.

  • I tried to summarise my reasons for my downvote here in chat so that the comment section doesn't become a discussion area: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/41764558#41764558 – Rhys Dec 15 '17 at 13:04
  • We were not talking about anything except Romantic relationships based on what the question was. And yes there are times when other relationships particularly relatives are considered as well. That is however irrelevant to the question and this answer. – HLGEM Dec 15 '17 at 14:10
  • An no I am not going to respond in chat where people are discussing the Last Jedi movie. Some of us have not seen it yet. – HLGEM Dec 15 '17 at 14:11
  • I was foccussing mainly on the part where more attention needed to be paid to financial accesses in the situation of a work relationship. My reasoning was that that seems like a thin reason to request all relationships be disclosed given that anything involving finances should always have been monitored to the best of abilities regardless. – Rhys Dec 15 '17 at 14:49
  • I assume you have never seen the disasters that relationships at work cause. Only an incompetent HR would not forbid some of them. The finance point was an additional point, the first reason and why ALL relationships need to be disclosed and evaluated involved conflicts of interests in the business. Until they evaluate the potential for trouble, they don't know which relationships are might be allowed and which might not. Often if the relationship is to continue one of the people involved needs a transfer to a different position or needs to leave the company. – HLGEM Dec 15 '17 at 18:29
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It might be because if two people are in romantic relationship then they might be biased in each others favour which will actually harm the interests of the company. This is specially the case when the two people are in same department or one person has to report to another or one person is supposed to assign work to another one. In such cases they may get biased toward each other and might try to cover mistakes of each other which they normally wouldn't do if they were not in romantic relationship. Doing such things might harm company in some way or the other.

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