Could dating in the workplace get you fired?

Let’s face it because of the time spent at the office the workplace for many is a prime opportunity to meet someone you may be attracted to and later develop a romantic interest in. But will your colleagues and employer agree? Further, can you in fact be fired for entertaining an office romance?

Let’s begin by defining a workplace romance. According to, simply put, it is a ‘romantic relationship between two people employed by the same employer.’

According to experts while South African law doesn’t directly allow you to be fired because of dating in the workplace, there are loopholes. This means that an employer can instead look at regulating these kind of relationships in an office environment by contractually stipulating desired guidelines.

Talk Radio 702’s Phemelo Motene believes if you enter into a relationship with a colleague or boss, one of you should look at leaving the company you work for. “One of you needs to leave because the position of power tampers with what could be happening in that office,” added Motene.

There are typically many other reasons that could be both work related and preference as to why employers may not agree with these relationships. Listed below are a few of the most agreed upon:

-Favouritism: If you find yourself in a situation where you are dating a superior there could be a degree of favouritism that could take place both consciously and sub-consciously when it comes to your work. This has the dangerous potential of causing in-fighting in a team and also calls the ethics and judgement of that superior into question.

-Lack of focus: If you’ve ever been in love or romantically involved you’ll know the feeling of losing all focus when that person is in the room or in your space, as you try and soak them up. While there is nothing wrong with feeling this way, when it comes to the work environment and your career this could be disastrous. Not being able to focus on your work to the extent that it affects your productivity and ultimately the business is grounds for your employer having an issue with who you’re kissing.

Unprofessionalism: We get it, you’re in love. But this doesn’t mean that your colleagues have signed up for observing make-out sessions between you and your partner while they’re trying to enjoy their morning coffee. Simply put, you need to respect yourself, your partner and your colleagues enough to keep the public displays of affection at bay.

-The break-up: While thinking of the possibility of breaking up, especially when you’ve just entered into a new romance is terrible. It’s something you especially need to consider if you’re working with that person. The awkwardness that could ensue could have an effect on your entire working team and even filter through to your work and productivity.

We’re often taught to view office romances as something that could be fun and thrilling, and while it can be, it is always advisable to just give your contract a read first to ensure that you do not get yourself into any uncomfortable situations. That and being mature to handle such a relationship is key.