Relationships at work

Workplace Romance

Around the coffee machine or during meetings, the workplace is conducive to dating and more if affinity. This romance at work can cause many problems.

An employee who has difficulty distinguishing between private and professional life, arguments when the relationship turns sour, romantic relationships between a superior and a subordinate, disclosure of confidential data on the pillow... All these elements push the employer to regulate, sometimes in detail, the relationships between colleagues. Behavior that is not always legal or appropriate...

Company rules

At first glance, establishing a company rule that simply prohibits romantic relationships between colleagues may seem ideal to alleviate all problems. However, such a regulation is problematic because it is likely to infringe on the privacy of employees.

Such an infringement can only be justified if the employer has overriding interests. However, it should be noted that the employer's interests do not always prevail.

The employer may transfer or dismiss one or the other of the employees who are in a love relationship only if their relationship poses serious problems within the company, in particular in the event of a significant deterioration in the working atmosphere, when the two lovers have to deal with the risk of mixing personal and professional life, or in the event of unequal treatment, in particular when a superior favors his or her subordinate with whom he or she is having an intimate relationship without any objective reasons.

However, other measures than the adoption of company rules may be more appropriate.


The personal relationship between an employee and his or her colleagues is an inherent part of his or her personality. In principle, the employer cannot base his or her dismissal on the employee's romantic relationship with a colleague. In certain circumstances, such a dismissal could be wrongful.

This is reserved for cases where the relationship jeopardizes the interests of the company. This includes cases where the work atmosphere deteriorates due to the break-up or if the employee risks, even if not on purpose, revealing confidential information to his or her spouse who works in a competing company. However, this termination must be handled with great care. 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon