Know Your Employment Rights 5: Work-Love Balance


By: Roland Cerera

Don’t find love, let love find you. That’s why it’s called falling in love because you don’t force yourself to fall, you just fall.


As we spend more than half of our post-academic life at work, there is a great chance that we actually get close to the other members of the company roster. So close, that a simple admiration can turn to infatuation and soon thereafter, there are those who end up with the church bells ringing.

To fall in love with your officemate or co-worker is something beyond the employer as it is blatantly none of their business.  Coworkers marrying each other is not unusual, there are, however, certain institutions that actually forbid relationships built within the ranks. Here are some examples:

When a person in authority has a relationship with a subordinate

The law does not speak of romantic relationships, it provides prohibitions on employers deterring its employees from entering into marital relationships. Even if legal, banning any work romantic involvement may have its own consequences. From an employee standpoint, disallowing relationships within the organization could decrease morale. Conversely, the employer is concerned about conflict of interest, favoritism, and security issues.

work love balance know your employment rightsEven without the express mention of such affair in the company policy, a superior-subordinate relationship is regarded to have a conflict of interest offshoot. Inevitable quarrels among the involved parties may lead to a doubled loss in productivity.

Not every junior-senior relationship ends up in trouble but their complex nature means everyone involved needs to be extra-aware of what’s ethical. People who start making bad decisions without thinking at work can soon be missing deadlines, losing productivity, and exercising poor judgment on work items. Should the company realize losses arising from such, it can take the necessary action to protect itself.

Marrying someone from a different company of the same industry

The Supreme Court agrees with an employer for not allowing their employee from marrying someone from a competitor company.  In a case whereby an employee of a renowned pharmaceutical company was to be wed to an employee of a competitor, the high courts ruled that it is but right for the company to uphold its welfare. The welfare being cited here is the company’s prerogative to safeguard its trade secrets.

As per the establishment of a healthy family life, spouses communicate intimately and such communication is what corporations are very mindful about. An employer may issue a policy prohibiting an employee from marrying if there is a compelling business necessity for which no alternative exists other than the discriminatory practice.

Having an illicit affair

illicit affair at work

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It is another story if you fall in love with the “wrong” person; more than the moral fault, it is also civilly unaccepted. An illicit affair is tantamount to immortality and is, therefore, punishable not only by the appropriate disciplinary body of a company but also by the governing civil laws of the Philippines.

Just Cause for Termination Related to Workplace Relationships

The labor code considers it a just cause to terminate employment due to serious misconduct and not having a relationship within the workplace per se. One offense that falls under this just cause is sexual misconduct, immorality, and sexual harassment. The Supreme Court has allowed the dismissals of business executives and managers, and even rank-and-file workers for committing some sex-related offenses, like acts of lasciviousness, attempted rape, seduction of minors, and violations of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law.

As long as the erring employee is granted due-process, when found guilty, he will surely lose his job, forfeit all benefits and exit dishonorably. Even if the victim does not complain, when done inside company premises, management can initiate charges based on facts.

While the structure of the Labor Code appears to be generally in favor of labor, this does not mean that the employer is devoid of its own prerogatives one of which is the power to terminate the services of an employee for violation of a company policy which the latter agreed upon during the signing of the employment contract.

Typically, if there is “immorality clause” in the employment contract, company policy, rules or regulations or company code of conduct which provides for termination of an employee by reason of immorality, then an employee may be terminated if found guilty for such ground. However, such kind of immorality must be of a gross in character and not merely simple immorality. Furthermore, at this stage where the employee is in the risk of losing his or her job, the employer must observe due process. That is, giving the defendant employee the opportunity to explain his or her side and to defend him or herself. As we all know, adherence to the company policy is not always absolute. A humanitarian consideration from the employer is still possible depending on the circumstances attending the issue.

Maintaining Work Love Balance

There is nothing legally nor morally wrong if you fall in love with someone in your office. Nevertheless, keeping up with one’s duties and responsibilities should never hinder work productivity. It is a common practice by management to separate love birds to different departments within the company especially if both ties the knot. Dichotomy will be lessened if not eliminated.

An extra-marital affair is a totally different matter. It no longer constitutes the jurisdiction of the employer but the society in general. Making sure that your deliverables are in check and you have a “valid” relationship, then, there is nothing to worry.


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