(Reuters) — One-in-three people in France claim to have had a workplace romance, most often a short-lived fling, according to a survey.
The survey — released as the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, 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 one in 10 respondents used the Internet during office hours to flirt.
The poll backs up a trend across the developed world where many people 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.
Thirty-one per cent of respondents admitted to a consensual workplace encounter but 63 per cent of those who did described it as a fleeting affair, found the survey of 1,100 people conducted for labour law publishers Tissot Editions.
When it lasted, only 17 per cent of those who hooked up were happy to go public with it at work, 22 per cent kept quiet and six per cent 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, found the survey.
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 workplace relations that amounted to more than a fling more generally happened among young employees, principally among the under-35s, the survey results showed.
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