Question & Answer: Consensual Relationship Agreement

Q: I’ve heard some companies have employees who are dating sign some sort of agreement. Is it something we should have?

A: An agreement regarding the dating relationship is not required. Many employers use them, however, because they can help set expectations and reduce liability. I generally recommend that employees sign a Consensual Relationship Agreement if they enter into a romantic relationship with each other.  Typically in such an agreement, the romantically-involved employees acknowledge the following:

  • The relationship is voluntary and consensual.
  • They are at liberty to terminate the relationship, individually or collectively, at any time and without fear of retribution.
  • Entering into or staying in the relationship has not been made a term or condition of employment.
  • They have received, read, and understand the company’s sexual harassment policy.
  • Their relationship doesn’t violate this or any other company policy.
  • If the relationship involves persons in supervisor/subordinate roles, one or both parties may be required to move to a different job or department, and if no other jobs are available, the parties will be given the option of terminating their relationship or resigning from the company.
  • They will not allow an end to the relationship to adversely affect job performance.

Office romances change the nature of employee relationships and can affect performance and culture in the workplace. By signing a Consensual Relationship Agreement, the employees acknowledge that they understand company expectations and requirements. And should any complaints arise from either party in connection to the workplace romance, the agreement shows that the employees understood it was their responsibility to maintain a professional working relationship.

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