Hess Associates

Dating and Your Workplace – Do or Don’t – But Most Do

Is it illegal to have a romantic relationship with someone in the workplace in Canada?

The real answer is “No”.

Discrimination on the basis of family status is illegal, but of course your date is not (at least not yet) a member of your family. Some companies have developed policies frowning on intra-company dating, but such a policy is not a federal or provincial law (http://www.hrmonline.ca/hr-news/can-you-legally-ban-office-romances-208795.aspx), and would not hold up in court.

If you begin to work at a company where your present dating partner works, it is probably advisable to disclose this at the outset. For starters, you would not want to report to this person, nor would you want to have them reporting to you. The company would not want this arrangement either. If you did not disclose this at the outset, it would certainly not remain a secret in any case.

Of course, it is always best to behave in an adult, friendly, non-romantic fashion, to keep up a normal professional comfort level in all of your doings and relationships that take place during the work day. Policies of the 21st century on workplace romance have to adjust to today’s society – where hoodies and jeans have replaced suits and ties – it is a different world.

Often the easiest place to meet someone you would like to date is at the workplace – common interests, face to face, relationship development starting as professional friends. It would certainly not be in a company’s best interests to discourage this.

“With more people delaying marriages until after they’ve started their careers, and work seeping ever deeper into our lives, workplace romances have become commonplace. In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 40% of employees reported having dated co-workers sometime in their career” (http://www.canadianbusiness.com/lifestyle/is-your-policy-on-office-dating-updated-for-the-21st-century/).

“According to Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen, authors of the book Office Mate: The Employee Handbook For Finding — And Managing — Romance On The Job, about 50 per cent of workers in the U.S. admit to having dated co-workers. The British payroll company Portfolio Payroll revealed in 2002 that seven out of 10 of their workers had a romantic relationship” (https://www.thestar.com/life/2012/08/02/the_dos_and_donts_of_office_romances.html).

The main thing is to adhere to certain personal, co-worker, and company boundaries:

– Make sure you know your company’s policies on office dating
– Be certain that this is not heading toward sexual harassment
– Do not undeservedly favour, reward, or promote your dating partner
– Don’t have intimate relations with your boss while continuing to work for her/him
– Don’t think no one else knows you are dating a co-worker – they always know eventually
– Let you boss know you are in a relationship (to clarify your situation)
– If you do break up, do not harass your former date, punish them for breaking up, or flaunt your new dating partner – if this new person is also from the same company

Apart from all of this, have fun! Look what you gained by taking this job!!!

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