Rumours that one of the staff in our organisation is having an affair with another employee is causing concern to the manager of one of the parties. Both of the individuals are married and do not work in the same area. The manager is concerned on a number of fronts (1) the female is at a junior grade, whereas the male is a management grade and the manager feels this could lead to complications at a later stage, and (2) the amount of time the individuals spend calling in and out of each other's offices during the day. The manager feels this it is causing a disruption to other staff and it is becoming a talking point in the organisation. While the manager does not see his role as a moral guardian to either party and has no proof that an affair is taking place, all of the actions of both parties, and general rumour, indicate this is the case. The office has a code of behaviour that deals with respect and appropriate behaviour to other colleagues in place but does not directly deal with this type of situation. Is it in order to confront the parties on the issue or how should we proceed?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A ROI on 7 February 2012
Barry Walsh
McDowell Purcell
Issues covered:

It is unlikely that either of the employees here could be in breach of any obligations to their employer or to fellow employees. It would be reasonable for the employer to expect that the other employees would be sufficiently mature to be able to handle the existence of such a relationship. It is very unlikely to be an employer's obligation to have a moral guardian role for the junior employee. However, if a conflict of interests arose for the management level employee e.g. in considering the object of his affection for promotion or a bonus, then that conflict should be disclosed to the employer and the manager should avoid participation in any management decision on the matter.

The amount

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

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Barry Walsh
McDowell Purcell

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