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Love and Medicine: Managing Romantic Relationships in a Healthcare Practice

Love is a beautiful thing. But, anyone who works in the medical field understands that romantic relationships can be complicated.

As a practice owner or manager, you will need to navigate the process of managing romantic relationships in healthcare. Workplace romance and healthcare can be complicated, and your practice must make sure that you do a clearly-defined job of communicating policy for managing romantic relationships in healthcare.

What do you need to know about legal and ethical issues from workplace romance in healthcare? Learn more about developing a policy for managing romantic relationships in healthcare, and do not hesitate to reach out to an expert who can help you navigate this complicated issue.

The Importance of Having a Policy in Place

There are plenty of people who meet their significant other at school or in the workplace. Unfortunately, there is a reason why it is important to have personal and professional boundaries at work. Sure, there are some places where office romances are going to blossom into beautiful relationships, but it is also important to understand some of the biggest legal and ethical issues that could develop from an office romance, particularly in the medical field.

Some of the most important legal and ethical issues that could arise include:

Sexual Harassment Claims: If there is an office romance taking place, it could eventually end badly, and it might lead to some sexual harassment claims from one party toward the other. The practice could be held responsible in this situation, which is why a clear policy needs to be instituted.

Retaliation: There is a chance that one person in the relationship could retaliate against the other if the romance ends badly. This is particularly risky if the relationship is between a supervisor and a subordinate.

Favoritism: There is also a chance that favoritism accusations could start to fly among other people in the office. They may try to claim that someone is getting preferential treatment because the supervisor is dating them.

These are not only ethical issues but also legal issues. It is critical for the practice to have a clear policy in place regarding romantic relationships.

As you develop a clear policy, some of the most important points you might want to keep in mind include:

Communications: You do not necessarily need to ban all office relationships, but you do need to remind everyone that communications are monitored. That way, you may be able to cut down on some of the accusations listed above.

No Relationships Between Supervisors and Subordinates: In addition, you should make it very clear that office relationships between supervisors and subordinates are not allowed. These types of relationships are where issues of retaliation and favoritism can arise, so you should make it very clear that they are not permitted in the office.

Training: Finally, make sure all of your employees go through a detailed training program that focuses on sexual harassment and reporting. This is one of the best tools practices can use to shield themselves from potential lawsuits.

Do not forget that you need to clearly communicate this policy to all employees. You should also vigorously investigate and pursue any potential violations of the policy listed above.


How to Develop a Policy for Managing Romantic Relationships

As mentioned above, it is important to have a policy that can prevent many potential issues. You need to develop a policy that prohibits relationships between supervisors and their subordinates, and you should also make sure all employees go through training regarding the policy of office romances.

Unfortunately, there are some situations where a supervisor and a subordinate could end up in a relationship. In this case, there are a few steps you need to follow. They include:

• Do Not Simplify: It could be tempting to boil down the relationship into a simple violation of company policy. Instead, it is important to approach the issue with compassion, as you will be dealing with people's emotions, careers, reputations, and futures. You need to start with a conversation.

• Do Not Jump To Punish: Next, even though your first instinct might be to punish people for violating company policy, that probably shouldn't be the first thing you should do. This could open a significant issue, as one of the employees might retaliate against the other forgetting in trouble.

• Do Involve HR: You do need to get the HR department involved. You will definitely want to sit down and speak with those employees to get a clear picture of the issue, but you want HR to be present.

• Do Prioritize the Practice: Finally, you need to prioritize the practice. One of the easiest ways to handle this issue is to shift either the employee or the supervisor to another area where they are not going to be direct reports to one another anymore.

Even though you have the policy to follow, it is important to be flexible and understanding in this situation.

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How to Communicate the Policy to Employees

There are several ways you should communicate this policy to your employees. First, it should definitely be in the employee handbook, and you should encourage your employees to read it. On the other hand, keep in mind that not all of your employees are going to read the handbook from cover to cover. That is why it is important to have a rigorous training program in place as well. All of your employees should be required to watch training videos that include information on the policy, but you also need to provide employees with resources who might be in a romantic relationship in the workplace.

Contact Dental & Medical Counsel for Help Navigating Romantic Relationships in the Workplace

Romantic office relationships are going to happen, and you need to rely on Experts who can help you navigate this issue. We are Dental & Medical Counsel, and it would be our pleasure to provide you with resources that can help you navigate office relationships in the workplace. This includes HR software for preventing ethical issues from workplace romance in healthcare. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team.

How HR for Health Can Help

Ready to get started with HR for Health? Contact us today to set up a fifteen-minute consultation and learn more about how HR for Health can help your practice grow and protect you from various HR challenges - including bullying. 

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