No Rules? What Can (and Will) Go Wrong
If you decide not to implement any office romance policy, there are things that can (and will) go wrong. The first is the obvious accusation of sexual harassment, so if that pops up, you better have a good policy in place and follow through with it. You can download a sample sexual harassment policy here along with a sexual harassment incident report.
Beyond having to deal with sexual harassment, office romances, especially in smaller companies, can lead to favoritism if one employee is a supervisor, dissension from other employees who dislike office romances, and from public displays of affection that may offend some of your customers or employees.
Employees involved in a romance or those that disapprove of the romance can start rumors, make accusatory statements that could ensue in a lawsuit—one that involves you, and could even cause your office productivity to drop. In the smallest of companies, outsiders seeking work may not choose your company to work for because they’re unsure of your business owner ethics.
Not every office romance will turn into Bill and Melinda Gates, so you need to determine what’s best for your organization as a whole. If you have various departments, you may be fine with a department-to-department office romance. On the other hand, if you own a beauty salon where staff are all located in a common space, an office romance could cause problems.
In any event, if you decide to implement an office romance policy, don’t go it alone. Ask an HR expert or attorney to draw one up for you or review the one you’d like to utilize before you implement the policy to ensure it’s legal in every sense of the word.
Finally, make sure whatever you decide that all of your employees from the entry-level to the higher-ups understand the rules and consequences, if you do decide to use a romance policy at your office.