Statistics from People Management released by the CIPD suggests that 90% of employees have been sexually attracted to a colleague at work, 54% of people surveyed had taken it further and had sex with a colleague and 49% had “got romantic” at work!
However what action can you take if you catch some one, ‘doing the deed’ in the office? You may be surprised to learn that this may not necessarily amount to gross misconduct. A recent EAT case has concluded in GM Packaging v Haslem, it will depend on the circumstances.
The managing director of a small company witnessed a senior manager, engaging in sexual activity with a more junior employee on work premises outside office hours. A voice recording had also been found in which both employees had spoken about the managing director in derogatory terms.
Being a small employer the owner instructed their HR Consultants called “Right Hand HR Ltd” (yes that was actually their name!) to investigate and carry out the disciplinary procedure. Their recommendation was for dismissal which he followed.
An employment tribunal ruled that the dismissal was unfair. It found that the managing director’s principal reason for the dismissal was the sexual activity on company premises and that dismissal on this basis fell outside the band of reasonable responses.
On appeal the EAT disagreed on the basis that as the voice recording of the incident had captured the employees making derogatory comments about the employer, the two issues together were deemed to be capable of amounting to gross misconduct.
So, if employee relationships are causing you a headache and you would like to implement a formal policy, please contact ProAktive for assistance.