Happy Valentine’s Day! Given the occasion, we thought we’d take a closer look at L O V E…
L = Leaving Early
“I want to leave early so I can take my girlfriend out”
There is no legal right to finish work early just because it is Valentine's Day. However, bosses who want to help play cupid can, of course, use their discretion to allow this. However, they should ensure that any such discretion is applied fairly and in a non-discriminatory way.
O = Office Relationships
“Office romances should be banned!”
An employer who forbids its employees from having office romances may well find itself facing a challenge on human rights grounds, in particular the right to have a private life. However, an employer may wish to develop a Relationships at Work Policy in which, for example, they could set out guidance on when such relationships need to be disclosed (such as, where there might be a conflict of interest) and how managers might deal with employees in a relationship.
V = Violating Dignity
“Get your hands off me! I am not interested”
Any unwanted conduct relating to sex or conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them can lead to trouble. Employers may wish to remind their workforce to remain respectful at work this Valentine’s Day. Employers might also want to draw attention to their Equal Opportunities and Anti-Harassment Policies too.
E = Exclusively Singletons
“You’re married so you’re not invited”
It isn't just smug married couples who have fun on Valentine’s Day. Many single people choose to rebel against the convention and have a singles night out. However, excluding those that are married from work-related social occasions could potentially be marriage discrimination. Therefore act fairly by ensuring that invites are opened up to all.
Ah Valentine’s Day – from whence did thou arrive? Interestingly, no one really knows. A popular theory is that it dates back to the time of Emperor Claudius (269AD, FYI). A Roman priest named Valentine was put to death for illegally conducting weddings between young couples after Claudius outlawed young men from marrying because he thought single soldiers made better warriors. But Valentine was caught and imprisoned. Rumour has it he fell in love with his jailer's daughter and on his way to the executioner, he passed her a note which said: "...from your Valentine". The first official St Valentine’s Day (on 14 February) came about thanks to Pope Gelasius in 496AD. He wanted to turn a Roman festival into a Christian one and decided to use the day to remember St Valentine.