In honor of Valentine’s Day, we conducted a poll to get your thoughts on the hot topic of love contracts.
What’s a Love Contract? To protect itself from liability, an employer requires romantically intertwined employees to sign an agreement stating that (1) the relationship is 100% welcome, voluntary and consensual and (2) they will fully comply with the employer’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, including immediately reporting any and all harassment, avoiding nepotism/favoritism and working in a professional manner at all times.
The Vote. The people have spoken. Unlike last year when it was a virtual dead heat, this year 63% of our voters said love contracts are a bad idea, with only 37% saying they’re a good idea.
My Thoughts. My rather negative view of love contracts was captured quite nicely here in Newsweek. In short, it seems to me that love contracts are a form of over-lawyering that basically forces HR to act as the love police. Effectively and consistently enforce your anti-harassment policies and you should be just fine.
A quote from the Newsweek article gives a bit more depth:
Consensual relationship agreements are just another case of “overlawyering,” says Mark Toth, the chief legal officer for Manpower North America, an outplacement and employment services company based in Milwaukee. “It forces [employers] to become the love police, consistently enforcing who’s dating whom,” Toth says. And he’s not sure if such contracts will necessarily protect companies from litigation. A subordinate signing a love contract might claim that he or she signed under duress or that harassment began after the contract was signed.
One can easily imagine the following conversation taking place in a company that adopts a love contract policy:
HR: Hello, Greg.
HR: I heard you’re dating Marcia. Is that true?
Greg: No, actually I’m dating Alice.
HR: Oh, really? I thought Sam was dating Alice.
Greg: No, he’s dating Carol now.
HR: Hmm. I thought Carol and Mike were married.
Greg: Did you hear that Bobby’s dating Cindy? And that Jan’s dating Peter?
HR: I quit. (Hands him a stack of love contracts.) Congratulations — you’re our new Head of HR. Get everyone to sign one of these.
Don’t let that happen to you.
(In the interest of fairness, some lawyers and HR professional are quite fond of love contracts. Read the full Newsweek article to get other perspectives.)