No better time to discuss this than on the eve of Valentine’s Day.

98% of HR Manuals / Employee Handbooks that I’ve come across are completely silent on this issue. Those that provide for it either completely ban workplace relationships or permit them with the condition that those involved should not be supervisor/supervisee.

Is a complete ban on workplace relationships a fair labour practice? Article 41 of the Constitution gives every person the right to fair labour practices.

Most people spend most of their time at work and while there, they interact on a daily basis with people of like interests and passions. A number of renowned couples, including Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Malinda Gates, met at work. Some surveys suggest that 18% of married couples meet at work.

It’s really not practical to place a ban on workplace relationships.

Due to the very nature and effect of romantic relationships, there is need for guidelines. Obvious concerns being conflicts of interest, favouritism and the effects of break-ups or strife. One general guideline is the requirement to disclose a relationship to HR so that necessary steps can be taken to avoid possible conflict of interest.

About Anne Babu

Anne is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Founding Partner of Anne Babu & Co. She has practised employment law for over 12 years and her employment law practice has been recognized by the prestigious Chambers & Partners. Anne cares about employers and their labour issues.


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