Employers in Britain are considering banning handshakes under the new “No Physical Contact” Rules.
This is being considered to avoid confusion about what kind of physical contact is acceptable and to avoid any costly claims of sexual harassment.
A recent survey found out that 3 out of 4 people want a total ban on Physical Contact.
Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer of the HR Consultancy Peninsula said, “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? 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.”
Kate Palmer added, “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. You’re probably safe with a handshake – unless your employer says otherwise. If there’s a rule, follow it.”
Kate said, “That’s the most physical contact I would have with a fellow employee. 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.”
The director also pointed out that the level of contact that you can give to someone depends on the person.
Kate gave out one example, she said that giving a pat on someone’s back is more acceptable on a construction site than in an office.
She also explained that employers should make sure that there is a strict and clear physical contact rules/police in their office and should also provide clear training for the staff.
She concluded with, “The workplace does extend outside the office. The classic example is the Christmas night out. We get a lot of queries about how to control staff behavior at events.”