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SVC article

Love is in the air

February 14, 2024

Valentine’s Day is a beautiful celebration of love, but how does it fit in with a day at work? Laura Wright, HR Partner with SVC Solutions, looks at how the cupid’s bow can cause issues in the office.

Valentine’s Day is often viewed as a fun occasion to express love to a partner or love interest, but how this day of romance is celebrated in the workplace can be complicated.

For some, it can be exciting to have a bunch of flowers delivered to the office by a loved one, but for others, expressions of love interest from colleagues in the workplace can be both unwanted and upsetting.

Romance in the office is often a very natural and lovely thing. We spend such a percentage of time at work, that it’s very common for our romantic relationships to begin in the office. However, unwanted advances can escalate to sexual harassment, whether as an isolated incident or over a prolonged period of time.

Sexual harassment is considered to be any behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwanted and is not limited to sexual assault. It can also come in the form of flirting or making sexual remarks about someone’s appearance.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees, workers, contractors and job applicants from sexual harassment at work. With this form of harassment being put in the spotlight in recent times, employers should consider their duty of care to employees. A study by Censuswide spoke to 2,019 workers and found that a staggering 29% had been sexually harassed by a colleague.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be cancelled, but employers should be aware of the potential risk of behaviour getting out of hand and take preventative steps to ensure employees are protected.

Engaging with employees by raising awareness on harassment at work is a good starting point, while delivering toolbox talks or awareness training to all employees on the issue can certainly help avoid occurrences of sexual harassment.

Employers should then support this training with a robust Harassment Policy which includes a zero-tolerance approach, identifies the forms of harassment, explains the process for making complaints and outlines consequences for breaching the policy.

All reports of sexual harassment in the workplace should be treated seriously and consider the wellbeing of employees. If you have an Employee Assistance Programme, make sure this is accessible to all.
If you need further HR support or guidance, please do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable HR team on 01206 262117.

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