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Valentine's Day and the workplace

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017

Valentine's Day is a chance for people to show off their romantic side, but it comes with a warning to tread warily in the workplace.

It's not uncommon for people who work together to be in a close personal relationship, New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck says.

But in some cases, a person's anonymous admiration for a colleague could come as an unwelcome surprise.

It could even be construed as sexual harassment or stalking.

"You have to remember it is a workplace," Ms Beck said.

"If your admiration is unrequited, keep in mind that you are going to be seeing this person eight hours a day and that might be uncomfortable for one or both of you."

She said some people could feel quite disconcerted at the thought of somebody watching or noticing them, or having feelings for them.

It could be perceived as disturbing in a workplace, where most people were simply there to work and get along.

If there was repeated and unwanted contact, that could constitute sexual harassment and lead to serious legal problems for misconduct.

Ms Beck said employees should also be aware of whether their workplace had a policy around office relationships.

She said they might be obliged to report the fact so there was no suggestion of conflict or unfavourable treatment of other people in a team.

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