Of course, my experience and the survey results raise the question: if 35% of employees who have an office romance hide it and the majority (or 100% of my experience) of sexual harassment claims arise from these secret romances, it is an advantage that employees sign a consensual relationship agreement. There may be organizational benefits to employees signing an agreement, but it is not a panacea for process prevention. For example, if you ask employees to sign such an agreement, workers and employers may find a more practical way to address all issues related to appropriate interactions in the workplace, i.e. if you keep your hands in the breakfast room or if you kiss in the hallway. This agreement is confidential and is not intended to enter into the privacy of employees, but to confirm that both employees have received all relevant instructions and have agreed to comply with them. Kluger recommends a culture of transparency in employee relations. A consensual relationship contract provides employers with a management tool. The contract can be short, he says, simply a signed document stating that a couple is in a consensual relationship with the promise to notify the employer if their status changes. (XpertHR provides a standard contract. Logins required.) The legal standard for sexual harassment requires employers to take „immediate corrective action“ when they are aware of an allegation of sexual harassment.
An amicable relationship agreement provides an additional level of protection to ensure that the subordinate worker cannot subsequently assert that the relationship was not consensual, which exposes the employer to liability. „Today, some employers have guidelines that prohibit work novels, but I am convinced that love cannot be prevented. We need strategies and tools that empower people to be honest about relationships in the workplace, so that those relationships can be managed. In fact, he adds: „It`s a bad message to have rules against work novels, because this policy will force people into hiding.“ Like Romeo and Juliet, the prohibition of such relationships will end in disaster. The social relationship is welcome and consensual between the two collaborators. Despite the potential benefits of such agreements, Wobber said he sees how his administration „would be a nightmare for a company`s human resources department.“ In many ways, she says, „it`s easier for a company to have a non-meeting policy that effectively ignores the realities of human relationships.“ Staff members can consult a lawyer before signing this agreement. While difficulties can arise when a relationship moves from a consensual to a non-consensual relationship, the employer can say through these agreements that it has defined a „clear line“ in relation to relationships, which shows that it is trying to protect workers. As with marriage contracts, in the early areas of a relationship, workers can be so involved in the positive aspects that they do not see the potential risk on the street. But that risk is real. While cooperation and conviviality foster platonic friendships, potentially increase productivity, create a culture of camaraderie and reduce turnover, this can also lead to the development of consensual romantic relationships between collaborators. With the development of these relationships comes the potential for legal claims regarding sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and favouritism among workers. The politics of romance of work is not only important to create a culture of openness and honesty, it is also an essential element of protecting the company from legal rights.