Rules abound when love blooms at work

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - TRADES & SERVICES - Janita Singh De­tails: karen­gately.com.au

AS BILL and Melinda Gates, or Michelle and Barack Obama can at­test, some­times of­fice ro­mances turn out well. Or as the Mon­ica Lewin­sky and Bill Clin­ton af­fair pub­licly show­cased, in some cases things can go wrong.

If you ever thought about dat­ing a co-worker, you should learn some ground rules first, says peo­ple­m­an­age­ment spe­cial­ist and au­thor Karen Gately.

Gately, who reg­u­larly works with HR teams, says she has seen of­fice ro­mances turn sour and even end in dis­missals.

“The re­al­ity is in work­places ev­ery­where peo­ple are in­volved in per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with col­leagues and even their boss. Be­com­ing ro­man­ti­cally in­volved with a col­league isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem but how peo­ple go about it can be,’’ Gately says.

“It’s wise to un­der­stand your rights and obli­ga­tions be­fore you choose to pur­sue a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship at work. Be­ing ed­u­cated can go a long way to­wards help­ing you to stay on the right side of your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s poli­cies and the law.”

If you sim­ply must pur­sue your co-worker crush, fol­low Gately’s tips: Tell your man­ager Be­ing up­front with your man­ager will al­low you to work to­gether to en­sure your re­la­tion­ship doesn’t be­come a con­cern for col­leagues or the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Work­place law While there are no laws that specif­i­cally gov­ern of­fice ro­mances, sex­ual ha­rass­ment leg­is­la­tion is very rel­e­vant. Sex­ual ha­rass­ment laws are ap­pli­ca­ble in the of­fice, at work-re­lated events and even be­tween col­leagues out­side of work. Some types of sex­ual ha­rass­ment may also be of­fences un­der crim­i­nal law. Con­tem­plate for a mo­ment if your re­la­tion­ship ends bit­terly. Com­pany poli­cies En­sur­ing com­pli­ance with sex­ual ha­rass­ment laws and pro­tect­ing con­fi­den­tial­ity are com­mon rea­sons or­gan­i­sa­tions choose to put poli­cies in place around work­place re­la­tion­ships. Safe bound­aries The most im­por­tant things you can do to en­sure your of­fice ro­mance has a pos­i­tive im­pact on your life is to be­have with re­spect, fo­cus and in­tegrity to­wards your­self, your col­leagues and em­ployer.

Think care­fully about what it says about your abil­ity to con­duct your­self re­spec­tively if you choose to date a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple at work or get in­volved in an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair.

Never al­low your re­la­tion­ship to en­croach on com­pany time, dis­rupt the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment or stand in the way of you get­ting your job done.

Hon­our the con­tract you have signed up to and strive to con­trib­ute to the stan­dard you are ca­pa­ble of.

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