If Valentine’s Day leads to many office hookups, then April Fool’s Day can be considered the traditional day of mourning for imploded relationships. HR professionals fear April 2: the annual day of harassment complaints arising out of imploded workplace romances. Is there a solution to this cycle? The answer could lie in the admittedly unromantic “love contract.”
Here is one example of this type of agreement:
Tom Jones is employed by RomCom (the “Company”) as Head of Advanced Products Manufacturing. Meredith Smith is employed by RomCom as Head of the Advanced Products Division. Each hereby gives notice to RomCom of their voluntary social relationship.
In entering into this contract, each confirms the social relationship is entirely voluntary and consensual; that neither shall allow this relationship (or its termination) to negatively impact performance; and that each will respect the decision to end the relationship and will not engage in any unprofessional or inappropriate conduct toward the other either during or after this relationship. Specifically, each will not retaliate against the other person, engage in any unwanted efforts to resume the relationship, or engage in any other conduct toward the other person that could violate RomCom’s Anti-Harassment policy.
While working or on Company premises (including the premises of any business related to Company’s business), each commits to avoid any public displays of affection or other behavior that might interfere with the work of others, create a hostile work environment for others or that might make others feel uncomfortable. Each covenants to act professionally toward the employee named above at all times, even after the relationship has ended.
Each agrees to notify Human Resources if this contract is not honored or if the Anti-Harassment Policy is violated; to comply with all Company policies; and to refrain from any misrepresentations or omissions, in connection with any Company investigation or inquiry into such matters. Each understands and agrees that employment with RomCom may be terminated at any time, with or without cause.
Prior to signing this Consensual Reporting Relationship Form, each has received and reviewed the Company’s Sexual Harassment Policy, a copy of which is attached. By signing this agreement, each acknowledges that this social relationship does not violate RomCom’s Sexual Harassment Policy and that entering into the social relationship has not been made a condition or term of employment.
Each promises not to participate in any Company decision-making processes that could affect the pay, promotional opportunities, performance reviews, hours, shifts or career of the other, while in this relationship and after the relationship ends. Each acknowledges that RomCom will not permit a reporting relationship between those in a relationship and that it may require a transfer to avoid that conflict of interest and that, if a transfer is not available, one must resign; and that if neither resigns, RomCom will be permitted to terminate either.
Tom Jones and Meredith Smith have each read this Consensual Reporting Relationship Agreement, and by signing below, each agrees to comply fully with the terms of this Agreement.
Employee (print name) Employee (signature)
Human Resources (print name) Human Resources (signature)
Click here to view table.
Bottom line, love contracts are certainly unsexy, and are sure to take much of the lust out of most office romances.
But, are these contracts a viable solution to a real problem? Sometimes, but not often. First, this is an option only for organizations with comprehensive policies in place. Second, even there, it is an option only for such entities where this approach fits the established culture of the organization. Finally, there is a perverse aspect to love contracts: the more you add, the more intrusive you will appear and the less likely people will choose to participate in this process: i.e., the death spiral between the legally desired protection and the voluntary co-operation needed to achieve that protection. Put simply, love contracts – like prenuptial agreements – aren’t for everybody.