When it comes time to create an employee handbook, most employers are quick to come up with policies related to time off, benefits, and pay. But there are other important policies to consider, too—and some of them can be a little more difficult to tackle, such as an employee dating policy.
Hashing out rules about workplace romance can feel unnecessary, but it’s actually an essential policy for businesses of all sizes.
Why do you need an employee dating policy?
In 2022, more than a third of all US workers reported that they were in a relationship (or had been in a relationship) with a coworker—a 7% increase from the previous year.
Clearly, workplace romances are common, and it’s important for employers to consider how they affect the company culture. When the romance is going well, others may see the relationship as favoritism, or as a distraction that decreases productivity. On the flip side, if the relationship sours, the breakup could lead to perceived retaliation (pay cuts, job transfers, termination, etc.).
In fact, retaliation is one of the most common discrimination claims in federal sector cases—and companies that don’t spell out their employee dating policy are putting themselves at serious risk.
In short, a clearly defined employee dating policy is vital because it protects employees, protects the company, provides necessary guidelines for workplace behavior, and reduces workplace distractions.
What’s in an employee dating policy?
Also known as a workplace relationship policy or fraternization policy, an employee dating policy gives rules and guidelines employees should follow when they have a romantic relationship with a coworker.
Here are some questions the policy should answer:
- Is workplace dating allowed?: The policy should plainly state whether or not romantic relationships are allowed within the company. (Yes, you technically can ban employees from dating outright, although this policy may backfire.)
- What steps should employees take when dating?: Do employees need to disclose the relationship to their bosses? Who can date whom? (Some companies restrict dating between managers and employees or amongst leadership, but not amongst colleagues.)
- What are the standards for workplace dating?: Can couples publicly display affection at work? Do they need to keep their relationship private?
5 tips for creating an employee dating policy
Coming up with an effective, legally compliant employee dating policy is no long walk on the beach. Here are some tips to help you write yours:
1. Take a stance
Legally speaking, the worst stance you can take on employee dating is to take no stance at all. Don’t let the courts define your policy—take a clear stance on the subject. Will you allow managers to date their direct reports? Can the CEO date the president of the company?
2. Get legal advice
Employee dating policies can get murky quickly. Your policy should comply with local, state, and federal laws, so it’s smart to consult a legal expert to make sure you have your bases covered.
3. Draft your policy
Write your dating policy, being sure to include the policy’s purpose, scope, and details about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to workplace relationships. Don’t forget to include an anti-discrimination statement, along with the consequences for violating the policy.
4. Consult stakeholders
Once you’ve written your policy draft, allow all stakeholders to review the policy, including HR and legal teams.
5. Review the policy with employees
Finally, it’s time to distribute the policy to your employees (or add it to your employee handbook). Make sure everyone clearly understands the policy, and be open to feedback. You may even want to conduct a meeting to go over the policy with the company as a whole.
Generate your employee dating policy with SixFifty
Writing an employee dating policy is understandably daunting. When you’re dealing with matters of the heart and the law, things can go south quickly. So don’t leave it up to chance. SixFifty can help ensure your employee dating policy is compliant with the latest laws, no matter the size of your company.
Our Employment Docs toolset gives you access to top-tier legal expertise, while saving you time and money. Effortlessly draft policies for employees who work onsite, remotely, or a hybrid of both. Schedule a SixFifty demo today.