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You may have seen in the news last week that ITV have introduced some new rules regarding workplace relationships following the scandal with This Morning’s presenter Phillip Schofield. A ‘Personal Relationships at Work’ policy has been given out to all staff and ITV expects all its staff to declare if they are in a relationship with a fellow member of staff, and if they fail do so they can be dismissed.

Some believe this has been quite a drastic step to take. Afterall, we spend a lot of time at work and therefore there is a high chance we will meet and fall in love with a life partner.

In fact, we know people do. Let’s face it many of us have friends who met at work, or indeed we ourselves may have met our life partner whilst in the workplace. So, it is very much an HR issue that at some point you will come across.

Relationships can be a tricky one to navigate in the workplace but it can be done successfully.


There is a myriad of things to consider, and it really will depend on each individual case. But here are some things to consider:

  • Is the couple working in the same department? If so, could one be moved to another department if both are happy to do so? This ensures there is no conflict of interest.
  • Do both people behave appropriately in the workplace?
  • Does one of the couple report into the other? If so, this is plainly an imbalance in power and could cause huge future issues. Clearly, everyone ultimately reports into the CEO. This is where it gets particularly fraught.
  • Does the couple work in the same team? If so, it may cause resentment in the team, as co-workers could perceive the couple as treating each other more favourably than others in their peer group. In addition, work colleagues may feel that the couple ‘gang up’ on others.
  • Have they declared the relationship to HR? This is wise as it means everyone knows where they stand and how best to manage the situation.
  • What happens if this relationship breaks down? How will that impact the wider team? It has been known!

You can put in place policies and practices to mitigate these situations.


For example:

  • Compulsory disclosure of any relationships to HR.
  • Do not allow relationships to exist between a manager and a direct report.
  • Ensure managers are properly trained to handle these situations.

If you need advice about how to handle workplace relationships, or you have any other HR issue that is bothering you, as always, please do reach out for a chat on 0330 043 0897 or email

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