Does my business need a Dating Policy?

Should my business have a policy about Employee Dating?  The personal lives of your employees are really none of your business, UNLESS their actions affect their work performance.  That is why you can have policies setting rules on Other Employment, Off-Duty Drug Abuse, and other activities outside of work.  When it comes to dating, an employer’s big worry is that such a relationship will either hurt work performance or lead to a sexual harassment/ discrimination charge.

Many employers are tempted to either forbid employee dating or try to regulate it, but doing so could cause even more headaches.

Dating between co-workers: A policy on how your employees can interact outside of work (friendship OK, romance Not Allowed) is hard to justify.  Most courts would not support any such policy.  You might even face charges of invading an employee’s protected right to privacy.    That is hard for some employers, for many know how much a soured relationship can hurt work performance.  However,  it is usually best to avoid this kind of policy.  Instead, address any problems as Work Performance issues, not violations of any dating policy.

Remember, it is not sexual harassment to ask someone out on a date, even if that other person is your co-worker.  Just make sure that all employees fully understand your company’s Sexual Harassment Policy.

Dating between supervisor and employee:  This kind of dating IS something you can try to control.  You should consider addressing in your Employee Handbook, for two reasons:
1. Other employees may claim discrimination, feeling that the supervisor is playing favorites towards their dating partner.
2. Should the relationship sour, that employee may claim sexual harassment, feeling pressured to keep the relationship going in order to keep their job. 
To avoid these kinds of situations, consider having a Conflict of Interest Policy that would forbid any supervisor-subordinate dating.  You are not concerned about the employees’ personal lives, but you are legitimately concerned about any supervisor-employee dating since it will hurt employee/ group morale and could easily lead to charges of discrimination or harassment.  This policy needs to be carefully worded to show that your concern is only about work performance and discrimination, not about the employees’ personal lives.

Ready for a new Employee Handbook?  Maybe it is time for an updated employee handbook, including a Sexual Harassment Policy and a Conflict of Interest Policy.  Consider having New Wind custom design a new employee handbook for you.  They do all the work and you will get a professionally done manual, ready to implement:

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