Com­pa­nies are re­view­ing dat­ing poli­cies

The Palm Beach Post - - BUSINESS - By Joyce M. Rosen­berg

NEW YORK — It hap­pens in so many work­places — two col­leagues be­gin a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship. But a height­ened aware­ness about sex­ual ha­rass­ment means small busi­ness own­ers can get more anx­ious when em­ploy­ees start dat­ing.

Many own­ers have con­sulted with em­ploy­ment at­tor­neys or hu­man re­sources pro­fes­sion­als since the ac­cu­sa­tions against movie ex­ec­u­tive Har­vey We­in­stein in Novem­ber. Some own­ers have cre­ated or up­dated their poli­cies on dat­ing and sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and they’re mak­ing sure staffers know the rules and to speak up if they feel ha­rassed.

Bosses who in the past just watched with in­ter­est as a re­la­tion­ship blos­somed are be­ing proac­tive, telling cou­ples that if the ro­mance sours, both peo­ple are ex­pected to be­have ap­pro­pri­ately. And some own­ers are even ask­ing cou­ples to sign state­ments ac­knowl­edg­ing that their re­la­tion­ship is con­sen­sual.

Jacque­line Bres­lin, an ex­ec­u­tive with HR provider TriNet, is field­ing more ques­tions from busi­nesses that want to know how to han­dle em­ploy­ees dat­ing. The first step is of­ten to de­ter­mine whether com­pa­nies have poli­cies on dat­ing and sex­ual ha­rass­ment; if not, they need to be writ­ten.

Dat­ing poli­cies should set ex­pec­ta­tions for be­hav­ior, such as that emo­tions should not be dis­played at work. Poli­cies must also ad­dress is­sues like re­la­tion­ships be­tween su­per­vi­sors and sub­or­di­nates. Some own­ers might ban em­ployee re­la­tion­ships. But peo­ple at­tracted to one an­other may still date on the sly. And strict poli­cies can back­fire — tal­ented work­ers may choose love over a job and leave.

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