Companies are reviewing dating policies
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.