Romance is dead (at work)

It's a sad day for love as cautious employers want Valentine's cards banned from the workplace for fear that sexual harassment claims could ensue, while most owners of small firms believe budding office romances could harm their business.

In this litigious day and age, small business owners are concerned that explicit material could be sent, causing offence, or unwanted attention could lead to tension in the workplace.

’The problem with Valentine’s Cards is that there is a tremendous risk for them to be misinterpreted,’ warns Peter Mooney of Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS).

’Like any comment of a romantic or sexual nature, the potential for them to backfire is tremendous – landing employers at an employment tribunal fighting a serious case of harassment or sexual discrimination.’

ELAS surveyed 600 small and medium-sized businesses on their attitudes towards office romance ahead of Valentine’s Day and found a third want Valentine’s Cards banned from the workplace altogether. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 91.5 per cent of business owners claim that relationships are bad news for long-term office harmony.

“All it takes is for one person to take offence and any employer could find themselves being accused of sexual discrimination simply for allowing the cards to be sent,’ continues Mooney. ‘To be absolutely safe, any form of Valentine’s message – be it a card or a sexy text message, be it sincere or a practical joke – should be punishable by disciplinary action.’

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