Love at Work

For many, the workplace is the best place to find a partner, but office affairs can be dangerous career-breakers. Does that make it the company's business?

by Mark Vernon

For months, he watched her as she passed by his office. He started fetching his own tea in the hope of being able to say 'hello' en route to the canteen. She noticed and joined in the secret game to ensure their paths crossed. When one day she did not see him at all, she was surprised by how much she missed it.

Then came the e-mail announcing the Christmas party. He would have brought his wife, as was his habit, he told her, but this year he 'forgot' to tell her the date. She was thrown into a minor panic: they were going to be together in a place that was not the office; what intimacies would emerge in the informal surroundings?

The fateful night came and they were spotted by the MD embracing. He panicked - company policy stressed professionalism with subordinates. So he pushed her off, there and then, mumbling to his superior about a lapse of judgment and how it would never happen again. Later, she cried and cursed the inhumanity of the office. When a new job came up six months later, she took it and was gone.

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