Guidance on relationships at work


The University has no concern with the private lives of its staff or students unless they affect its proper operation or reputation. The Policy on Relationships already approved by the University should be read in conjunction with these principles. In due course the policy and these principles will be integrated.


A relative is defined (for the purposes of these principles alone) as spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin and guardian, by blood, marriage or adoption. Half and step relations are included.

A close relationship includes: cohabitee, business partner or associate, intimate friendship (as opposed to acquaintance), membership of associations pledged to render mutual assistance, and any other association where an impartial observer might reasonably conclude that the individual’s judgement would not be wholly impartial in making a judgement.

A judgement covered by these principles includes positive and negative outcomes.


There are circumstances where relatives or other staff who have a close relationship (as defined above) are employed in the University and one of the people concerned is solely or principally responsible for making judgements in implementing a policy or procedure applicable to the other. Alternatively a member of staff may have a close relationship with a student of the University and be responsible for making judgements. Examples concerning staff include the use of discretion in deciding applications for staff development funding, deciding on an application for compassionate leave, certifying a claim for expenses or awarding a contract. Examples concerning students include marking, assessment and awarding places on courses. These lists are not intended to be exhaustive.

In order to avoid any allegations of unfair practice, the following principles shall be adopted. The general principle involved is that that any judgement concerning a relative or person in a close relationship should not be made by the other. Where a number of people will be involved in making a judgement, the partner or person in a close relationship should withdraw from the judgement-making process before it begins. If a member of staff is in any doubt about the propriety of a situation, advice must be sought from a senior member of the Directorate of Human Resources or, if necessary, a member of SMT.

Where it is known in advance that judgements will need to be made, permanent arrangements should be made so that the member of staff who would normally have to make the judgement will not do so. Such arrangements might include setting up alternative judgement making mechanisms within a Faculty to move responsibility for a judgement from the Dean to a Assistant Dean or other senior member of staff within the Faculty, or moving responsibility for the assessment of a student to another member of staff

Where it is not known in advance that sensitive judgements will need to be made, then each case should be dealt with individually, using the general principle above. In such circumstances it will be strongly preferable for judgements to be exercised exceptionally by another person, e.g. the manager of the member of staff involved.

Any individual who knowingly fails to implement these principles will be liable to disciplinary action unless they were unaware of the relationship.