Healthcare organizations are not exempt when it comes to office romances. Some organizations may choose to ignore office romances; some organizations may ban them altogether; while others may have policies and procedures in place for disclosing relationships to human resources. With the recent attention of allegations and misconduct in the news, it's a good time for employees and employers to ensure they are on the same page.
A good place to start is with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOC). What is their stance? As it turns out it appears they have a stance that romances in the workplace are going to happen: "There is no way we are going to stop office romances, and that should not be what we are setting out to do, "said Chai Feldblum a commission at the EOC. He went on to say, "It doesn't need to be the end of office romances. It needs to be a catalyst for employers to think about what they don't want happening in their workplaces that will cause people to feel uncomfortable and not wanting to show up at work."
What's in your policy and procedures?
If your organization shares a similar stance that office friendships, dating or romantic relationships are going to happen, consider a policy that does not forbid these types of relationships, but has clearly defined expectations. For example:
@OFFICENAME@ believes that we have a responsibility of providing a work environment where employees feel comfortable in the workplace. Therefore, we believe in a work environment where employee maintain boundaries between business and personal interactions. While we are not preventing the development of friendships, dating or romantic relationships between co-works, we are setting guidelines all employees are expected to follow regarding how relationships are conducted during business hours in our workplace. If you have an administrative role with our organization (e.g., manager, supervisor, etc.) where you have influences over decisions regarding employees' conditions of employment, you are subject to more stringent requirements under our policy.
Our policy does not preclude or interfere with the rights of employees protected by the Labor Relations Act or any other applicable statute concerning the employment relationship.
From there, it's important to have clearly defined procedures. For example:
- During business hours and while performing your duties in the workplace, employees are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner that does not interfere with others or interfere with patient care.
- During nonworking time (e.g., lunch, break, etc.) and while in our facility, employees should avoid any behavior that offends other employee or puts others in an uncomfortable position. This means, all employees are strictly prohibited from engaging in physical contact that would in any way be deemed inappropriate by a reasonable person while anywhere in our facility or on our premises.
- Any employee who permits personal relationships with co-workers to negatively impact our work environment or disrupt patient care, are subject to @OFFICENAME@'s sanction policy.
- @OFFICENAME@ will respect employee off-duty conduct as private. The exception to this is if an employee's conduct creates problems within the workplace.
- We require any administrative positions (e.g., supervisor, manager, etc.) @OFFICENAME@ to disclose the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship with another co-worker. We will determine whether any conflict of interest exists because of the relative positions of the individuals involved.
- If a conflict-of-interest problem or potential risk is identified, @OFFICENAME@ will work with the parties involved to consider options for resolving the problem. For example, responsibilities such as hiring, firing, promotions, performance management, and compensation decisions may require reassignment to avoid favoritism or disadvantage.
- The provisions of this policy apply regardless of the sexual orientation of the parties involved.
- Any concerns about the administration of this policy should be addressed to @OFFICENAME@'s human resources department.
Have additional questions? Contact us today by email: [email protected] or by phone: 855-427-0427.