What Is A Love Contract, And Do I Need One?
Have you ever heard of a love contract? This term often refers to an official legal document drawn up by an employer regarding an office romance between coworkers.
If you’re involved or may become involved in a romantic relationship at your workplace, it may be beneficial to learn more about love contracts in case you’re asked to sign one.
What Is A Love Contract?
Also known as a “consensual relationship agreement,” a love contract is a legal contract that employees who are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship might be asked by their employer to sign.
These contracts may also help guard an employer from sexual harassment claims and other legal issues that could eventually arise from the relationship or its ending. A love contract may include various sections, including the following.
A Statement Of Consent
Suppose the individuals in the relationship sign a statement of consent. In that case, it may be more difficult for them to win a court case against a company in the future that claims the relationship was non-consensual.
The contract may have information on withdrawing your consent officially in the future should the relationship change.
A Declaration Of Rights And Responsibilities
The rights outlined in this declaration may have to do with the rights you retain as a person in an office relationship. The responsibilities may detail your obligation to do your job as competently as you would if the relationship didn’t exist.
There may also be an agreement that you won’t engage in intimate behavior on the job. You may agree that you won’t enter romantic or sexual relationships with a supervisor.
Conflict Of Interest Guidelines
In some cases, a contract may be created to avoid a conflict of interest. For example, it may be problematic if a romantic relationship interferes with a company goal because one’s partner is favored over the best candidate. This section of the contract might outline the procedure for situations like these.
Acknowledgment Of The Company’s Sexual Harassment Policy
The contract may also include a section where both parties agree to abide by company policies related to sexual harassment.
Additional guidelines or stipulations may also be included at the company’s discretion. The company may strive to have clear documentation of the relationship from the start and ensure everyone agrees to a set of rules designed to promote the best possible outcome.
How Common Are Love Contracts?
Love contracts may not be typical. An article from the Society for Human Resource Management says that lawyers familiar with love contracts often write fewer than a dozen a year. However, as consent becomes more widely understood, employers may choose to implement a contract or similar measures to guard themselves in case of a workplace romance.
One survey found that more than half of employees reported having been involved in a workplace romance at some point. Almost three-quarters of them said they’d participate in an office romance again if the opportunity arose.
From the employer’s perspective, new legislation may also impact their decision to start requiring documents like love contracts. Bloomberg Law points out that the recent passage of worker-friendly state laws has made some employers look closely at their dating policies.
States like California, New York, and Delaware have made it easier for workers to sue over sexual harassment allegations. As a result, more employers might require love contracts to decrease their liability.
Potential Effects Of Office Romances
There are a few reasons besides legal liability employers might want to enforce rules related to office romances.
A romantic relationship in the workplace could negatively impact other coworkers. It could make them feel that you or your romantic partner get unfair advantages, such as knowing work-related news first because you’re involved with someone in management. It may make them uncomfortable if you vent to them or tell details about your relationship.
If you break up, the relationship could put the employees or employer in an awkward position of having to choose sides or take over new job responsibilities so that you and your ex can avoid interacting.
Romance may also have a negative impact on productivity. Excitement about it may make it hard for you to focus, or time spent interacting with your partner could detract from time you previously would have spent working.
How Do I Know If I Need A Love Contract?
Often, the employer requires that two people sign a love contract, not the employees. However, you may be able to request that one be drawn up if desired. Since a potential reason for creating a love contract is to keep the company legally, your employer may appreciate the gesture.
If your employer proposes a love contract, you may have to decide whether you will sign it. Some people may be hesitant simply because it could seem like a formal, unromantic concept to impose on a romantic dynamic.
In some cases, a love contract might feel too serious for a more casual affair. Additionally, you may hesitate to allow your employer or others at work to get involved in your relationship, preferring to keep your individual life hidden.
Depending on the circumstances, you may lose your job if you refuse to sign a love contract that your employer has mandated. You may want to seek professional legal counsel for advice on this situation.
If you have questions or need advice about the legal elements of a workplace romance, consider seeking a legal professional. Therapy may be beneficial if you’d like advice or guidance on sorting through your feelings related to an office romance or any other type of relationship.
A trained therapist can help you analyze your feelings from a logical, balanced perspective and can help equip you with the tools and insights to make the right decisions for you. If you’re interested in the convenience of meeting with a therapist from the comfort of your home, you might give virtual therapy a try.
Studies suggest online therapy can have similar benefits to in-person sessions. In one study, 71% of participants found it more beneficial. If you’re interested in trying online therapy to discuss relationship concerns, consider signing up for an online platform like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples.
In some cases, a love contract may keep an employer from liability in the case of a workplace relationship. You may also want to impose a love contract for personal reasons at work, whether you’re currently dating someone or not. If you hope to find emotional support or therapeutic advice on any relationship concerns related to your job, you might also decide to reach out to a licensed counselor for support.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
What is a love contract?
In today’s world, particularly in Western societies, the possibility of a lawsuit is essentially always present. You see, office romances happen all the time, but what happens when the relationship ends and one party is upset? They may claim sexual harassment, which could negatively affect the company. Such contracts, which employees sign, can help ensure that romantic relationships between employees are of a consensual nature and don’t lead to sexual harassment claims or other negative outcomes for the company.
Can you make love contract?
Love contracts are generally set up by a department of human resource management in a company. The idea is to not let a romantic relationship cause issues for the company, for example if one party were to make certain negative claims (e.g. a harassment claim).
Are love contracts legally binding?
Love contracts, like any other signed contract, are legally binding. Employee relationships are not against the law, and love contracts are not about prohibiting or approving them. The idea is simply to ensure that employee relationships and office romance are consensual affairs wherein the employees who sign the contracts cannot file claims of harassment against the company just because the relationship ends badly.
What is a love contract in the workplace?
A love contract in the workplace may be written up by an employment attorney or by someone in the HR department (or even a freelance writer hired as a contractor). The idea is to prevent office romance from hurting the company (e.g., if the relationship ends badly and one employee seeks to make a harassment claim against the company). In essence, love contracts make a consensual relationship between two employees official and prevent the company from taking on liability in the case that anything negative were to develop (which might happen when the relationship ends).
Can a CEO date an employee?
A CEO and an employee can technically be together, at least assuming it is a consensual relationship. While it may often be looked down upon and employees may generally be dissuaded from doing so, sometimes love conquers all (“omnia vincit amor”). In these cases, professional advice should probably be sought. You can seek professional advice on this matter from a mental health expert, an employment lawyer, the HR department, and more.
While love contracts have gone mainstream in recent years, they are problematic in some states. For example, in California, laws make it more difficult for an employer to manage employee relationships—that is, unless there is a clear conflict of interest (e.g. it is between a supervisor and someone that they supervise).
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