Personal Relationships at Work

Organizations are encouraged to carefully consider issues associated with personal relationships at work as well as issues of nepotism.  Personal relationships (including romantic relationships and cohabitation) at work can compromise the integrity of the work environment especially in situations where an employee reports to a supervisor and is in a romantic relationship or cohabits with his or her supervisor.  Additionally, situations where an employee reports directly to a relative can also compromise the fairness and integrity of the work environment.  Accordingly, you are encouraged to include policies in your organization’s handbook that clearly explain your organization’s position on personal relationships at work and how they will be addressed.


(Name of your organization) prohibits personal relationships (including sexual, romantic, or cohabitation) (“Personal Relationships”) at work in the following situations to avoid the potential of a personal relationship adversely affecting others at (name of your organization) and compromising a healthy work environment:

  1. Personal relationships between a supervisor and an employee in the supervisor’s chain of command; or
  2. Personal relationships between a supervisor and an employee if the employee indirectly reports to the supervisor or the supervisor has effective input into decisions concerning the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment.

Employees involved in a personal relationship must promptly report the relationship to the (director of human resources) so that appropriate steps may be taken to evaluate the situation and avoid the potential for the personal relationship to adversely affect anyone in the workplace and to determine whether the relationship violates this policy. A supervisor’s failure to report a personal relationship may result in discipline including, but not limited to, termination.

Likewise, (name of your organization) does not allow relatives to work in an employee-supervisor capacity. This includes, but is not limited to, situations in which one relative:

  1. Is supervised by another.
  2. Is within a relative’s chain of command.
  3. Indirectly reports to the other.
  4. Can affect decisions concerning the terms and conditions of the other’s employment.

(Name of your organization) also will not consider applications, transfers, promotions, or other similar employment actions if the resulting employment situation would violate this policy. All employees must immediately report the relationship to (director of human resources) so that appropriate steps may be taken, if needed, including reassignment of personnel. Shared last names or other clues may help organizations determine that employees are related, but it’s not always obvious. If you suspect the organization is unaware of such a relationship, you must report it to (director of human resources), so appropriate steps may be taken. Any questions as to whether a particular relationship violates this policy should be directed to (director of human resources).

This is a sample handbook policy only. Your organization is responsible for compliance with all applicable laws. Accordingly, this document should not be used or adopted by your organization without first being reviewed and approved by a licensed attorney in your area. Brotherhood Mutual assumes no liability in preparation and distribution of this sample document.

Working Together © 2022 Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved. Updated 9/2021.