It happened. You found out two of your employees are madly in love with each other. What should you do? Some situations might lead an organization to consider implementing a “love contract.” A sample is available here from the Ogletree, Deakins law firm.
A “love contract” is a way to sit down with two employees (individually) in a consensual relationship and go over your Anti-Harassment and Retaliation policy, as well as ensuring no conflict of interest is created. This may or may not be necessary depending on your situation. Two co-workers dating and not creating any employee relations issues is not going to rise to the level of needing a “love contract,” and maybe not even a conversation.
Examples of when a “love contract” might be helpful are if one or both partners are managers, if there is a history between the couple, or if the relationship creates some type of conflict of interest. For example, it includes someone who has other family members working for you or if one person might not be a direct manager, but their role has some type of autonomy over the other person’s.
Below are some basic principles of the “love contract:”
- A statement that both parties welcome the romantic relationship, and that they each entered into and continue the relationship voluntarily
- A statement that neither party was harassed or threatened into the relationship or feels compelled to stay in the relationship in order to retain their job, or in exchange for a promise to receive employment opportunities or benefits of any kind
- An acknowledgment that both parties understand the employer’s anti-harassment policy, which should be attached to the contract
- Note that either party may terminate their relationship at any time without any adverse consequences to their employment
- Acknowledge, in accordance with the employer’s policy, that either party should not engage in any sort of favoritism or preferential treatment for the other, in connection with their employment
- Both parties typically affirm that they may not allow their personal relationship to interfere with their job performance
- Acknowledge that they may not engage in any conduct in the workplace that other employees could perceive as intimate physical conduct
- Some contracts require employees to notify a HR when and if either decides to end the relationship to prevent unresolved work-related issues that could implicate or involve the employer in potential litigation
It is important to keep in mind that a “love contract” does not override any Title VII obligations of employers or rights of employees. It is a strategic resource to try and make sure everyone is on the same page about how to operate moving forward and how to handle it if the relationship ends. Catapult members, for questions about employee relationships or “love contracts,” reach out to a member of the HR Advice team.