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Handshakes could be banned in British offices

Handshakes could be banned in British offices as survey shows three quarters of people favour a ‘no physical contact’ policy in the workplace

  • HR professional Kate Palmer said employers may want to ban all touching to avoid expensive sexual harassment lawsuits in the wake of #MeToo
  • A survey of 2,000 adults by jobs website Totaljobs found that three out of four people wanted a blanket ban imposed on physical contact in the workplace 
  • Palmer said it is important to remember everyone has different boundaries

Handshakes could be banned in the workplace to avoid confusion about what kind of physical contact is appropriate. 

Employers may want to ban all touching to avoid expensive sexual harassment claims, according to an HR professional. 

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at HR consultancy Peninsula, told Metro.co.uk: ‘Some employers may put a complete ban on physical contact. 

‘Whether that’s going too far or not is a question I would pose, because it’s contextual. Does shaking someone’s hand go too far? 

A survey of 2,000 adults by jobs website Totaljobs found that three out of four people wanted a blanket ban imposed on physical contact in the workplace

‘They may just say ‘no contact at all’ because there’s no grey area. It makes it simple, but it takes away affection which in some ways is a sad thing.’   

A survey of 2,000 adults by jobs website Totaljobs found that three out of four people wanted a blanket ban on physical contact in the workplace.  

Palmer said that in the wake of the #MeToo movement employers were seeking to implement more ‘black and white’ policies to avoid any potentially damaging or embarrassing cases. 

‘I haven’t seen anywhere go as far as banning shaking hands, but there may be an employer who has gone as far as that,’ she told Metro.co.uk. 

Palmer said that although workers are ‘probably’ safe with a handshake, people should be mindful that their perceptions of ‘appropriate’ physical contact may not be the same as their colleagues. 

Everyone has different physical boundaries and social norms vary from one employment sector to the next.  

HR professional Kate Palmer said employers may want to ban all touching to avoid expensive sexual harassment lawsuits in the wake of #MeToo

She also added that if a workplace has set down specific rules, these should be strictly adhered to, as they are there for a reason. 

Companies that do not have set policies in place should think about implementing them, and staff should be fully briefed about what their employer’s policy is, according to Palmer. 

Above all companies should make sure the complaints policy is clear and accessible for all.  

‘[A handshake is] the most physical contact I would have with a fellow employee,’ Palmer said. 

‘Even if it’s a sensitive situation, when someone is upset I would be very mindful of a hug or putting my hand on their hand. Try to separate it from being too personal.’     

Finally, she said that above all workers need reminding that these policies also apply beyond walls of the office, for example at a Christmas party or somebody’s leaving drinks.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk