Would you sign a contract to date a colleague? Companies might require it

Up until now, office romances have been a touchy topic and somewhat frowned upon. Anyone who has seen "Bridget Jones's Diary" or has even so much so as dabbled in the pool of love with a fellow co-worker knows first hand just how secretive you have to be, just how messy things can get.

But now that is changing, with some American employers asking their lovesick employees to sign a "love contract," a document which - according to Forbes - office lovers acknowledge before in writing that their relationship is consensual and that they understand the company's sexual harassment policies.

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In Canada, 30 per cent of workers say they have dated a co-worker at least once, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Ilan Jacobson, managing director and HR representative at FirePower Capital, says he has not heard of this type of contract being implemented anywhere in Canada, but understands why this could be effective.

"As an employer you want to be proactive with all sorts of situations," says Jacobson, who sees the contract as absolving the employer from any legal responsibility, should things not work out in the relationship.

Knowing office relationships have the potential to get messy, Jacobson says he would only require a "love contract" if there was an issue at hand with a particular couple, to prevent any potential sexual harassment complaints.

"I don't think that it's the employer's right to tell people who they can and can't see romantically," says Jacobson.

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Toronto-based employment lawyer Daniel Lublin agrees with Jacobson on that front, saying, "When it comes to dating at work, there are no laws against it and there should not be. Courts generally do not want to be involved in office politics or romance unless there is some form of harassment."

However, he adds, "While companies may feel better about having a signed agreement in place that demonstrates the relationship is consensual, in reality, this will not shield the company from liability. Following a good human resources policy and training is much more effective than a 'love contract.'"

So what do you think? Would you sign a love contract at the office, or does the whole process sound daunting and you'd rather sneak behind closed doors?