British companies have been urged to consider American-style 'love contracts' in case cupid's arrow strikes at the office Christmas party.
Law firm DWF said that although one in four people meets their partner at work, office relationships could be a minefield for companies.
Clare Young, solicitor with DWF said: "Office romances can cause all sorts of problems from loss of productivity and unrest among other staff to conflicts of interest and allegations of favouritism.
"If the relationship ends, it may result in the departure of a key member of staff or even a claim for sexual harassment. Where one party has a high profile or high-ranking position, it can also attract adverse media attention, such as with the recent revelations about John Prescott."
The company advises employers to consider their approach to relationships at work and to run awareness campaigns in the run-up to the office party – a key danger time, according to the firm – to make staff aware of the boundaries.
A US-style 'love contract' could help employers by requiring relationships between colleagues to be declared to the company and setting out what behaviour is acceptable between couples in the office or at work functions.
It could also set out what measures the employer might take if performance suffers as the result of an office romance, the firm added.