September 14, 2023

Workplace romance on the rise

This post was written by: Laaibah Bhatti

In today’s modern workplace, the lines between personal and professional life can often blur, leading to the emergence of workplace romances. While such relationships are not inherently wrong or uncommon, they can pose significant challenges and risks for both employees and employers.

Today, we navigate the potential dangers of workplace romance.

When a romantic relationship develops between two colleagues, it may lead to favouritism, conflicts of interest, or perceived bias in decision-making. Other employees may feel left out, undervalued, or uncomfortable, leading to a toxic work environment.

Furthermore, when a workplace romance turns sour, it can have devastating consequences. Disputes, harassment allegations, or hostile work environments can arise, potentially resulting in costly legal actions and damage to the company’s reputation.

  • Sexual Harassment Claims: One of the most significant legal dangers associated with workplace romance is the potential for sexual harassment claims. If a romantic relationship ends, and one party perceives that they were coerced into the relationship or experienced harassment, they may take legal action against the company and the individual involved.
  • Favouritism: Workplace romances can create perceptions of favouritism. If promotions, raise, or opportunities are perceived to be unfairly distributed because of a romantic relationship, this can lead to discrimination claims by other employees.
  • Conflict of Interest: Employees in a romantic relationship with each other may be in situations where their personal interests conflict with the interests of the company. For example, they may be involved in decision-making that impacts each other, which can result in ethical and legal concerns.
  • Confidentiality Breaches: Workplace romances can sometimes lead to the sharing of confidential company information. If a romantic relationship sours and one party decides to disclose sensitive information about the company, it can lead to legal repercussions.

Mitigating the Risks

  • Establish Clear Policies: Employers should have clear and comprehensive workplace romance policies in place. These policies should address issues such as disclosure of relationships, reporting procedures, and guidelines on appropriate workplace behaviour.
  • Encourage Transparency: Encourage employees to disclose any romantic relationships that may pose a conflict of interest. This transparency can help the company address potential issues proactively.
  • Consistent Enforcement: Enforce workplace romance policies consistently and fairly. Avoid making exceptions for certain individuals or relationships, as this can lead to claims of discrimination.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you’re uncertain about how to handle a specific workplace romance situation, consult with legal counsel to ensure that your actions comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Our employment law department is here to assist you in navigating these complexities and ensuring that your organisation remains in compliance with the law while fostering a healthy and productive work environment.

For any employment queries, please contact Ilinca Mardarescu ( Head of employment) at