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An official, signed love contract policy should solve all of your potential problems with charges of sexual harassment at the end of a romantic work relationship. Right? I wouldn't count on it, even a love contract reviewed by your employment law attorney. Betsy Weber, a colleague and friend from the TechSmith Corporation, sent me an article, (Canoodling co-workers: Sign on the dotted line) from globeandmail.com, earlier this week to let me know about this trend called love contracts. I hadn't heard that term before but the article about love contracts that she sent certainly made me think.

A love contract policy establishes workplace guidelines for dating or romantically involved coworkers. The purpose of the policy is to limit the liability of an organization in the event that the romantic relationship of the dating couple ends. The main component of the love contract policy is a love contract.

The love contract is a required document signed by the two employees in a consensual dating relationship that declares that the relationship is by consent. Additionally, organizations may include guidelines on behavior appropriate at work for the dating couple. Frequently, the love contract eliminates the liability of the company for any actions that occurred prior to the couple signing the contract.

Currently, according to Craig Silverman in the globeandmail.com, love contracts are mostly an American thing because Americans are more litigious than Canadians on employment law issues. Love contracts may help control thrill seeking behavior.

"'If you're only in it for game-playing and secrecy, then making the relationship public [with a love contract] takes away some of the thrill," says Janie Harden Fritz, an associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Duquesne University and the author of Problematic Relationships in the Workplace.

"Dr. Fritz says love contracts are a result of companies trying to manage workplace romances. She points to research conducted in 2001 that found 23 per cent of American companies asked employees to notify them if they were dating. By 2005, it had increased to 39 per cent."

Here's my take on love contracts: The Scoop on Love Contracts

More Thoughts on Love Contracts From Other Bloggers

Read earlier blog posts.

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Comments
June 3, 2008 at 1:10 pm
(1) Topher says:

Susan,
This is a something many employers tend to either ignore or institute their own policies at will. I think something that needs to be kept in mind is the impact it will have on the rest of the staff while the relationship is occurring, as well as after is has ended. As you point out many issues begin after the relationship has ended and the subordinate employee complains they are being “snuffed” by their boss and ex. A resource I have found to be helpful with ways to prevent being accused of sexual harassment is Employee-Employer.com.

June 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm
(2) Susan Heathfield says:

Topher, Thanks for commenting. That is a good article and I also agree with it. As an employer, the last thing I want to worry about is our employees dating. I hope that you don’t mind, but I have added it to the main body of the blog so more people see it. Here’s my take on this, too:

Tips About Dating, Sex, and Romance at Work.

June 6, 2008 at 1:28 am
(3) Swani says:

Nice articles and very informatic.. Thanks and keep writing.
Thanks & Regards,
Swani Mishra

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