Council looks to kiss office flings goodbye

A council personnel boss who proposed a policy under which "intimate behaviour during work time" could be classed as gross misconduct and lead to disciplinary action was accused of "laying down an Orwellian diktat".

Workers at Fenland District Council, which is based in March, Cambridgeshire, would have to declare any "close personal relationship" with a colleague to their manager "in writing" if the policy gets the go-ahead.

Personnel officials should also be told and "the information declared... recorded on the personal files of both employees", the proposal adds.

The Draft People Policy: Relationships at Work plan was drawn up by Sam Anthony, the council's head of human resources. Councillors are due to discuss it at a meeting later this month.

A TUC official described the proposal as an "Orwellian diktat" which would generate resentment. Campaign organisation Big Brother Watch said the council should "let common sense prevail".

The proposal, outlined on the council's website, says: "Intimate behaviour during work time is not acceptable, and this applies during all working time (not flexed off time), both on and off council sites. Any breach of this could be regarded as a disciplinary offence."

Sarah Veale, the TUC's head of employment rights, said: "It's quite common for relationships to start in the office but... workers shouldn't feel compelled to say anything about an office relationship."