South African employees should inform their employer when starting a workplace romance.
Speaking to Cape Talk Anli Bezuidenhout, a senior associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said that while a blanket a prohibition on romances is not appropriate, certain regulations need to be in effect.
“You can’t police relationships outside of work,” she said. “All an employer can do is have a policy that makes it a requirement for employees to disclose the existence of a relationship.”
Bezuidenhout said that this policy should be ‘short and to the point’ and require employees to inform their seniors of a personal or romantic relationship that may have been created in the workplace.
It should also explain the reason for the rule, as employees may not be comfortable with sharing information their personal lives, she said.
“Some employees who prefer to keep their lives private may have a serious issue with employers asking questions about their personal life.
“The difference is that as soon as you arrive at work in the morning, you are subject to the rules and policies of your employer. As soon as you bring your personal life to work, the employer is entitled to make certain requests of you.
“This could be to inform them (your employers) once these relationships exist so that they may assess the risk, and to ensure that you are not in a position to expose the company or put your colleagues in awkward positions.”
Bezuidenhout said that this reporting can be done in private to the HR department so that the employees are not prejudiced in any way.
She added that this does not apply to ‘any interaction’ – citing the example of a date that does not go anywhere.