Office fling a commonplace thing in France: survey

Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:13am EDT
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By Brian Love

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - One in three French people claim to have had a workplace romance, most often a short-lived fling, according to a survey published on Friday.

The survey, released as the arrest of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sex assault charges has unleashed a broad debate in his native France about sex and politics and the line between public and private lives, also showed that one in 10 respondents used the Internet in office hours to flirt.

The poll backs up a trend across the developed world where many meet their long-term partners in the office due to working ever longer hours, and where Internet availability and social media sites make online flirting possible through the workday.

"Workplace life has long been considered a neutral zone, out of bounds to feelings and love. Frankly, it's actually more like a bar or a nightclub, a place that helps people meet up," said Ronan Chastellier, a sociologist who presented the survey.

The poll found that 31 percent of respondents, or roughly one in three, admitted to a consensual workplace encounter but that 63 percent of those who did, or roughly two in three of them, described it as a fleeting affair.

When on the contrary it lasted, only 17 percent of those who hooked up were happy to go public with it at work, 22 percent kept quiet and six percent quit their job to avoid any conflict of interest. The rest mostly ended up in different workplaces, but for reasons other than fear of reprisal.

France, like many countries, has no law banning workplace encounters, although many companies oblige employees to make sure any romantic encounters do not impinge on their work.

The scandal over Strauss-Kahn's arrest has set off a wave of talk about inappropriate sexual harassment in professional environments, including in France's national assembly.   Continued...