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An Office Romance – Should a relationship at work be disclosed?

Disclosing a relationship at work depends on various factors, including company policies, the working environment, and the nature of the relationship. Sara Patel, Employment Law Specialist at Banner Jones, explains some considerations to help employees and employers navigate what can sometimes be a complex situation.

Relationships at work in the UK are not unlawful. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 gives people the right to a private and family life. This means employees have the right to have consensual relationships with people they meet at work.

Employers who restrict or impose an outright ban on relationships at work could find themselves in violation of the Human Rights Act and employers are therefore encouraged to accept that such relationships will arise.

However, personal relationships are complex and therefore the situation may not always be straightforward. This is why it may be useful for businesses to create a ‘relationships at work’ policy outlining the procedure employees must follow if they enter into romantic relationships in the workplace. Such policies often include a clause stipulating that employees must inform management about romantic relationships.

Any policy needs to strike a balance between an employee’s right to a private life and the employer’s duty to protect other employees and their working environment, as well as its business interest and reputation.


Disclosure of an office relationship - 5 considerations


  1. Company Policies: Refer to any company policies on workplace relationships. Some companies may have specific policies which set out guidelines regarding disclosure or may even prohibit certain types of relationships, particularly those involving a manager and a more junior member of staff.
  2. Conflict of Interest: If the relationship involves a direct reporting structure, such as a manager and a more junior member of staff, disclosure of the relationship may help to avoid any perception of favouritism, conflicts of interest, or potential ethical concerns.
  3. Professionalism: Maintaining professionalism at work is essential, and if the relationship could impact on the employees’ ability to work together objectively it is best to tackle this potential issue before this has a detrimental impact on the business.
  4. Impact on Work Environment: Consideration of the potential impact of the relationship on the work environment is important. If a relationship or breakdown of the relationship has the potential to create tension or disrupt the team, it may be wise to disclose the relationship so that the business can try to mitigate any risks early on.
  5. Open Communication: In many cases, clear, open and honest communication is encouraged. Taking proactive steps to address any potential concerns from the start of a relationship can help employers mitigate any legal risks and allow employees to demonstrate their commitment to transparency.


Ultimately, the decision to disclose a relationship at work depends on the specific circumstances of the employee and the employer.


Banner Jones can help

At Banner Jones we are able to provide you with advice in these situations as well as assist you with the implementation of a ‘relationships at work’ policy.

Please get in touch with our specialist Employment Law team at or click the links to find out more about our Employment Law services for employees and employers.

Sara Patel
  • Paralegal

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