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  • Relationships in the workplace involve a number of challenges which must be managed.
  • Measures such as blanket bans on relationships or requiring employees to acknowledge consent to the relationship are likely to be excessive in most workplaces and may appear to be intruding into employees’ private lives.
  • Policies encouraging disclosure of romantic relationships so as to avoid possible conflicts of interest and monitor the risks are the most effective means to manage the risks of workplace romance.

Relationships at work can present a number of challenges, as the Federal Member for New England can attest. These challenges face not just those involved in the relationship but also employers seeking to ensure that the relationship does not have an adverse impact on the workplace.

The recent explosion in coverage of sexual harassment in the workplace courtesy of the #metoo campaign has heightened the interest in the steps an employer should take to protect employees from predatory and unwelcome conduct in the workplace. But in circumstances where many people meet their partners at work, and the vast majority of relationships will cause no concern for employers, there is not only a question about the steps an employer can lawfully take to regulate relationships at work but also whether an employer should take such steps.

Is it necessary for employers to follow the example of the Prime Minister and declare a ban on sexual relationships between members of parliament and their staff? Or is the preferable
approach to deem personal relationships as private matters not susceptible to employer proscription?

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