I read a story in the paper this morning about a proposed "kiss and tell personnel" policy at a local district council (http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Kiss-and-tell-idea-dumped.htm). Oh dear. And we wonder why HR and Personnel departments get themselves a bad name?
If a People Policy: Relationships at Work (be it draft or otherwise) sounds like a spoof, unfortunately it’s not. The fact that it was rejected by council members says something for them but what about the Head of HR who put it forward in the first place?
It really makes me wonder about the need for such a policy. Perhaps the District Council offices are a hotbed of romance and, heaven forbid, lust? It could be the case that the Head of HR is forever having to deal with absences due to broken hearts, requests for transfers due to unrequited feelings or threats of being sued by the receptionist who went to the stationery cupboard only to find some “intimate behaviour during work time” going on between colleagues.
My point is this – if there’s no need for such a policy, why complicate matters and risk being a laughing stock by introducing it? The same goes for any policy – if there is a clear need to set out your company’s position you should do so. For example, let’s say you provide company uniform. Common sense would tell you that someone, somewhere along the line, will decide not to wear it. So, you need a short policy statement (not 15 pages worth!) saying:
• your company policy is for all staff to wear the uniform provided
• that there are consequences to not toeing the line. It could be that the person is sent home to change for a first offence (with the time taken to go home, get changed and come back being unpaid of course). Thereafter you’d probably want to consider disciplinary action of some kind.
• that if any member of staff has a problem, health-related or otherwise, to do with the wearing of the company uniform, they should speak to a named person in authority.
You have every right to say what your company policy is, regardless of the subject matter. You just need to be reasonable about it and expecting staff to declare details of their personal relationships is not generally considered reasonable without due cause.
I won’t be implementing a Relationships at Work policy any time soon. I have a horrible feeling that as I work with my other half, our impending marriage would require us to complete all sorts of forms. In triplicate.