My company want us to sign a 'love contract'. Do we have to?

'Love contracts' are an idea that started in the United States, particularly for senior staff, but have now crossed the Atlantic. They are an attempt to get the employer off the hook for any potential sexual harassment cases should your relationship turn sour in the future. You both sign an agreement that sets out how you will behave at work as well as confirming that your relationship is consensual, and that you understand your employer's sexual harassment policy. The implication is that your employer is then no longer liable for the conduct of either of you.

However, in the UK you can’t be made to sign away your rights to protection from sexual harassment in this fashion, and the existence of a 'love contract' is unlikely to protect the employer in a tribunal. Everyone is entitled to a private life, even while at work, and if your employer is trying to get you to sign an agreement which restricts workplace relationships, this may contravene your rights under article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

If your employer were to dismiss you for refusing to sign a 'love contract' you are likely to have grounds for an unfair dismissal claim, provided you have at least two years’ service.

In practice, 'love contracts' are unlikely to produce the result desired by employers, who would be better off focusing their energies on creating an open workplace in which employees treat each other with dignity and respect.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.