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Over Half of British Workers Admit to Office Romance

Over Half of British Workers Admit to Office Romance

Six in ten Brits have had a fling with a colleague, new research has revealed.

More than a third (35 per cent) of the relationships ended badly with many reporting that their love life lost them their job (17 per cent) or had a negative impact on their career (70 per cent).

Unsurprisingly the more junior member of staff in the relationship was the one most likely to see themselves detrimentally affected, with 79 per cent reporting that the office romance had a negative impact on their career.

Of those who were negatively impacted, 17 per cent lost their job as a direct result of their relationship; nearly one in five (18 per cent) was the more junior member of staff and more than one fifth (21 per cent) were women.

But both parties said that an office romance impacted their work situation with nearly a third of people reporting that their colleagues lost respect for them (32 per cent), over a quarter (27 per cent) feeling that senior staff changed the way they treated them and more than one in five (21 per cent) being side-lined.

In 44 per cent of cases the more junior member of staff in the relationship was a woman, compared to just 30 per cent of men, with the rest at the same level.

The research, which was commissioned by employment law experts Slater and Gordon, revealed that the more junior member of staff in the relationship was far more likely to come off worse, once rumours of the romance spread around the office.

Harriet Bowtell, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, advised that anyone engaged in a workplace romance should act with caution, thinking about the potential risk and outcomes of being involved with a colleague.

She said: “It is not surprising that relationships in the workplace are common. However, it is notable that such a large proportion of people said that the relationship had a negative impact on their career. This is especially so for the more junior employee in the relationship, who is often a woman.

“Our research shows that the woman can be treated worse than the man particularly when a relationship ends badly, including being passed over for promotion, side-lined or even forced out of her job.

“Employees should be aware of their rights if they feel they are being discriminated against following a relationship with a colleague and ensure they have a good grasp of any relevant policies in their workplace and have spoken to HR, their trade union rep or an employment lawyer.”

Over three quarters (77 per cent) of people said that they had not spoken to HR before or after they began the relationship, with a third (32 per cent) admitting they were unaware if their employment contract stated they were forbidden from having a relationship with a colleague.

Slater and Gordon commissioned the survey of over 2,000 employed Brits to find out how widespread the issue was and if employees were aware of the issues surrounding starting up a relationship with a colleague.



The research found that 47 per cent had been in a long term relationship when their office romance had started.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of those who were the more junior member of staff in the relationship felt pressured into the romance with more than half (54 per cent) regretting getting involved with their colleague at all.

After things ended more than half (54 per cent) of those who were the more junior member of staff felt under pressure to leave the business and find a new job.

Over half (56 per cent) of those in a relationship with a colleague said there was gossip about them, 61 per cent of those who experienced this said it made things
more difficult.

Sixty three per cent of people felt they were being judged for being in the relationship and the atmosphere soured to such an extent that one in 10 (10 per cent) of female employees changed jobs as a result.

Harriet Bowtell, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “Some employers have policies about relationships in the workplace which require employees to disclose them, to avoid conflicts of interest, breach of confidentiality and allegations of favouritism.

“It may be advisable to speak to the HR department to enable the business to protect the careers of both staff members and the business. Even if no policy exists, employees need to be careful not to step outside the bounds of appropriate conduct during an office fling, or crucially, when a relationship ends.”


Top Things Brits do When in Relationships With a Colleague:

1. Wait for the other person to finish work (30%)
2. Kiss at work (28%)
3. Work late together (24%)
4. Send private e-mails at work (22%)
5. Send private texts on work mobiles (17%)