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Model Conflict of Interest Policy for Employees Romantically Involved with Co-Workers

by | Jan 30, 2023 | Essential, Lab Compliance Advisor, Tool

Here’s a template for a conflict of interest policy that you can adapt for your lab based on its specific situation and HR policies.

Romantic relationships between employees can create a host of problems for your lab. The historic approach of seeking to ban romance and fraternization between employees is out of touch with reality and almost impossible to enforce. All such an approach does is breed resentment and compel employees to hide their relationships. A more innovative and effective approach is to have each employee involved sign a “love contract” acknowledging their relationship and the potential workplace problems it may cause and promising to abide by basic ground rules of behavior to ensure professionalism and avoid conflicts of interest. Here’s a template you can adapt for your own lab based on its specific situation and HR policies.


Workplace Romance & Conflict of Interest Policy

1. Principles

ABC Laboratories (“ABC”) respects the rights of employees to engage in romantic relationships with their co-workers. At the same time, ABC expects that employees will in no way allow their romantic relationships with other ABC employees to interfere with their obligation to comply with all laboratory policies, rules of conduct, HR protocols, and procedures.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to clarify how ABC’s conflict of interest policy applies to situations in which employees are romantically involved, spell out the circumstances in which a romance may lead to a conflict of interest, and define the employees’ obligations if the relationship does lead to a conflict of interest.

3. Avoiding Conflict of Interest

All employees must avoid situations which create a conflict of interest between their personal activities and their duties and responsibilities as an employee, including situations in which their romantic ties may interfere with their duties to ABC, its owners, managers, physicians, patients, employees, and other stakeholders.

4. What Constitutes a Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest occurs when an employee engages in personal conduct or activities which—whether in the context of a romantic relationship or otherwise:

  • Are competitive with the operations of ABC;
  • Place the employee in the position of obtaining a personal benefit by virtue of his or her status as an employee of ABC;
  • Bring ABC or its owners, managers, physicians, patients, employees, or other stakeholders into any kind of negative public perception or disrepute;
  • Otherwise have a negative or detrimental impact upon ABC and its reputation and laboratory operations.

5. Duty to Disclose Potential Conflicts of Interest

Employees who are involved in a romantic relationship with an ABC co-worker that they believe creates, or has the potential to create, a conflict of interest are obligated to report their circumstances or activities to ABC management.

Employees who believe they have witnessed, or are otherwise aware of, the occurrence of a conflict of interest arising out of a workplace romance or other situation must report that occurrence to ABC management.

6. Discipline

Employees who are found to be, or to have been, in a conflict of interest due to a workplace romance or other circumstances will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, depending on the circumstances and subject to the terms of any applicable contracts or collective bargaining agreements.

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