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Love's labors not lost on workers

By Simon Hooper for CNN

Most office romances are conducted in secret.
Most office romances are conducted in secret.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Workers planning to use Valentine's Day to vie for the affections of a colleague should consider first how much they love their jobs.

A new British survey reveals that two thirds of people have had an office romance, but half of those admit the relationship had an effect on their work.

The study, conducted by employment law advisors Human and Legal Resources, reveals that relationships can impair individual and team performance, lead to awkwardness and messy splits, as well as fuel office gossip.

One in five lead to major upheaval, affecting productivity and even leads to amorous individuals being shifted to other teams or departments.

In 10 percent of cases amorous workers opted to quit their jobs, while two percent of office romances ended with dismissal for one or both of those involved.

The hottest business to be in is leisure and tourism, in which eight in 10 employees had been involved in a romantic tryst at work. Healthcare and medical workers were the least likely to fall for a colleague's charms.

Among those owning up, 40 percent said their relationship had lasted for three months or more, while 14 percent had been involved in one-night stands.

Sex on the stairs

Three in 10 of workers confessed to having sex at work, with lifts and stairwells the most favored locations.

Most romances are conducted in secret, which is not surprising seeing that one or both parties involved are married in a third of cases. Half also involve one partner who is more senior than the other.

Yet most people surveyed considered relationships at work to be normal, albeit complicated, with colleagues even conspiring to keep senior managers in the dark, unless a co-worker's performance was adversely affected.

The study concluded that businesses would benefit from a more open, relaxed attitude to workplace relationships.

"Many employers react in one of two ways: ignore the issue entirely and hope it will go away, or write draconian policies in a ruthless attempt to suppress any burgeoning affections among their workforce," said Derek Kemp, chairman of Human and Legal Resources.

"As a result, employees feel they have to keep their relationships secret, which inevitably leads to tension, anxiety and decreased productivity.

"A far more sensible approach is to implement a positive policy that accepts that workplace relationships will happen and encourages employees to be open about them."

"That way, any potential issues that may arise as a result of the relationship can be dealt with professionally, legally and through the correct channels, before they become problems."

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