Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm not sure WORK is the place for romance, are you?

It is not illegal to be involved with another colleague romantically – and according to research, around 36% of us have had an office romance at some point. However, the thing to be mindful of is how a workplace romance affects productivity and indeed other colleagues.

There are a number of issues that could potentially lead to legal problem areas, such as:

  • Bullying: If a staff member is targeted, either for rejecting another’s advances or after a break up
  • Favouritism: If a manager is seen to be giving favourable treatment to a romantic partner
  • Harassment: If advances lead to an employees feeling harassed
  • Unfair dismissal: If an employee is fired as a result of any of the above.

The biggest threat there is harassment, as any unwanted advances must be taken seriously under the Equality Act 2010. The definition of harassment is broad and can range from sending a Valentine’s card to suggestive advances.

When one organisation tried to “ban” office romances they said it was to protect the interests of staff and that it was nothing to do with invading privacy, but rather a measure to prevent and reduce the risk of sexual harassment cases.

Whilst an outright ban is difficult to enforce, there are questions as to whether employers have a right to breach employees’ private lives under the Human Rights Act. However, where measures or guidelines have been introduced – perhaps via a “workplace romance policy” (yes they do exist!) – then matters become slightly different. It means, as long as the employees agree to the terms set out, they can be held liable for breaking the rules of agreed conduct.

If you have any questions relating to your employment, or you are an employer looking to put any terms or contract in place – work romance or otherwise – then contact the employment team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

More blog posts from this author

The war over wills is on the rise

There has been a sharp rise in the number of disputes relating to wills, according to the Law Society. It is thought this is down to the complex nature and changing family circumstances, so it is wise to make sure your will is kept up to date.

Don’t make BYOD into a disaster

Working from home on mobile devices such as laptops could introduce new security concerns when returning to the office after lockdown - so now is the time to ensure all software and network security is up to date.

Covid-19 sees share prices plummet - but gift-giving surge

The recent slump in share prices has presented something of a rare opportunity. In fact, if you are planning to gift any investments to your family, now is the time to do it.

More blog posts from this sector

With the latest Government advice - Do I still need work from home?

The Government’s roadmap identified that until England reached Step 4 of the Roadmap, employees should work from home where they can. As we are aware Step 4 has been delayed from 21st June to 19th July 2021 and therefore, employers should continue with home working wherever possible until the 19th July.  

Changing an employee’s terms and conditions is challenging both from a legal and trust perspective.

British Gas has been in the media over recent weeks due to the “fire and rehire” approach with their employees.

What are restrictive covenants and why do I need them?

I own a start-up which grew very quickly and a few years ago I hired in a couple of senior personnel to help run the business. After 5 years, one of these senior hires is now leaving the business and going to a company which isn’t a direct competitor but operates in a very similar field.


15A High Street
KT11 3DH

T: 01932 589599
F: 01932 505087

DX: 46102 COBHAM


156 High Street

T: 01306 880110
F: 01306 471230



The Tanners
75 Meadrow

T: 01483 861848
F: 01483 431965