Gold medal winner

In the last week, the cycling from the Rio Olympics has been the headline in the news and the number one topic of conversation in the office. Who would guess that watching cyclists go around an oval track could make such fantastic television! The finale when Laura Trott became Britain’s most successful female Olympian with her fourth gold, and Jason Kenny who won his record equalling sixth gold was mesmerising. The news that the couple are to marry soon just added to the happy ending.

The extent of their success could even suggest that relationships in the workplace can help improve team performances. Could that apply in the office environment too?

Some employers recognise that given the amount of time that colleagues can spend together while at work personal relationships will inevitably form.

However, many employers choose to have a policy on relationships at work because of fears that if colleagues get involved together it can result in problems. The typical workplace policy regarding personal relationships will usually stress that employees must not allow a personal relationship with a colleague to influence their conduct at work. However, it will be important that it sets out how the company may deal with workplace relationships so that everyone is clear.

A particular concern might be the risk of sex discrimination and harassment claims where the relationship has broken down. Taking action to protect the victim of such actions may mean that one of the employees has to be dismissed,  whilst a policy should strike a balance between the employees’ right to a private life and the employer’s right to protect its business interests a recent case[1] has shown that conduct relating to a work colleague that affected the workplace will rarely be protected under privacy rules.

It should be realised that there is no one size fits all answer, so in every case the full circumstances need to be taken into account.

Fortunately for British cycling and for all of us watching television this last week no such problems have affected our cycling couple who will hopefully be just as successful as Mr and Mrs Kenny in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

This post was edited by Christopher Davies. For more information, email

[1] Garamukanwa v Solent NHS Trust [2016] IRLR 476 EAT

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.