A company may not prohibit a love affair between employees; this is a private matter for the time being. However, under certain circumstances, the company may require employees to disclose such a relationship. In practice, companies that operate in highly regulated areas (such as banks and insurance companies) in particular have corresponding reporting obligations. This is primarily intended to avoid conflicts of interest.
When may the company interfere in the love relationship? If the amorous liaison has a negative impact on the performance of the employees concerned or if the working atmosphere suffers as a result (whereby the employees violate the duty of loyalty), the company can take action based on the right to issue instructions. If other employees feel disturbed by the love affair or by the persons in question, the company must issue instructions, as it has a duty of care towards all employees in the company. This is done by prohibiting the respective employees from having private conversations or physical advances, for example.
Love relationships between employees at the same level of the hierarchy tend to be less problematic from a legal perspective – at least as long as they are harmonious. The situation is different if there is a relationship of dependence between employees. In order to prevent preferential treatment or discrimination in this case, the company can, for example, entrust one of the two persons internally with another, equivalent position.
In order to ensure that clear conditions prevail in such cases and that concrete measures can be taken, it is advisable – depending on the sector or company – to issue appropriate regulations.
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