Client Update: Valentine’s Day @ the Workplace

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go – Rihanna

Office romances are tempting. Sometimes emotions interfere with common sense when it comes to love at the workplace. While a specific workplace romance policy may be difficult to enforce, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to review your Code of Conduct, Harassment and Social Media policies to ensure that a workplace romance does not interfere with business objectives.

CODE OF CONDUCT

At a minimum, your Code of Conduct should:

  • State that romantic relationships must not affect the work environment or productivity;
  • Require disclosure of superior | subordinate relationships to human resources; and
  • Make employees aware of the company harassment policy.

HARASSMENT

Not all relationships have happy endings. Relationships can be complicated when the relationship crosses from romance to harassment. How do you best respond to a harassment complaint? Ensure your harassment policy is clear, communicated and enforced. The fundamentals of a harassment policy include:

  • A clear definition of harassment;
  • A complaint process;
  • A fair and confidential investigation process; and
  • A fair and final outcome mechanism.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERNET ETIQUETTE

Welcome to the World Wide Web of potential sexual harassment claims. Now is as good a time as any to review your social media policy and ensure that something as seemingly innocuous as ‘omg, u look gr8’ does not land you before a human rights tribunal or in a courtroom. Do your social media or Internet policies dovetail with other applicable policies (e.g., harassment, technology and confidentiality policies)? Employers should emphasize that all company policies apply when employees use social media.

Love may not conquer all, but it may conquer a few. Employees must be aware of the rules, procedures and consequences of their romance. While this won’t solve all potential issues of workplace romances, it will assist in setting boundaries to protect all parties involved.

The foregoing is intended for general information only. If you have any questions, or for a detailed list and background of our Labour & Employment practice group, please visit www.stewartmckelvey.com.

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