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How much jurisdiction does a business leader really have over employees’ off-time?Just a few of the real-world difficulties caused by workplace romance that I’ve seen during my career include: Interestingly, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that while HR professionals aren’t reporting more workplace romances, the number of companies that have adopted formal romance policies has sharply increased. Can a policy protect your company from charges of sexual harassment or favoritism, conflict or morale problems?The following are factors this business owner and other employers should consider before instituting a policy on workplace relationships: Look at your company culture and applicable laws to decide what type of policy makes sense for your business.You might have difficulty enforcing an outright ban on all workplace dating.With Valentine's Day right around the corner, a small business owner overhears two employees discussing their upcoming date.The business owner knows that office relationships can negatively impact the workplace.Another, more common, example is when an employee holds two jobs in the same industry - where does the employee's loyalty rest?How would the employee face a conflict in the interests between the two jobs?

Lest you feel hard-hearted for discouraging workplace lovebirds, consider the turmoil and drop in productivity that can be caused by gossip, poor morale, and accusations of favoritism or sexual harassment charges.On a global basis, there may be different requirements, rules or regulations.Find out what the rules are in your area before using, and/or adapting, this policy.To protect both employees and you as the employer, it is necessary to define clearly what your expectations are; developing a conflict of interest statement will achieve that goal.This sample conflict of interest policy was written for a North American jurisdiction or region.Writing an employee handbook is a challenge; use a sample employee handbook; or employee handbook templates.

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