Linking Perceived Inappropriate Workplace Relationships & Discipline Policy


A husband and wife, Army Sergeant and civilian respectively, break up after 18 years of marriage.

This is due to the husband having a workplace fling with a female Private, both working in an operational unit.

One week after splitting up the wife makes a complaint to her husband’s line manager.

Should anyone be disciplined?

Commanding Officer’s

When a perceived inappropriate relationship is brought to the attention of a commanding officer (CO), the CO should consider the facts of the matter and identify whether the actions of the personnel involved have breached the Service Test.

What is the Service Test?

This states: “Have the actions or behaviour of an individual adversely impacted – or are they likely to impact – efficiency and/or operational effectiveness?”

If it is judged that the conduct breaches the Service Test (even in cases of consensual behaviour) administrative action may be taken.

However, this must not be done to impose one person’s morality on another; meaning disapproval is not enough to justify action.

There must be a potential or actual adverse effect on the workplace.


There are a number of considerations that line managers/CO’s must consider:

  • The overriding imperative is to sustain team cohesion and maintain trust and loyalty between commanders and the soldiers they are in charge of.
  • It is just as important for these high standards of social behaviour to be imposed during peacetime as well as on operations.
  • When faced with an allegation of social misconduct, CO’s should exercise their professional judgement and experience.
  • They must also be mindful that Service personnel have a right to a private life.
  • How serious the issue will be regarded depends on the individual circumstances, but it will be viewed as being particularly serious if there is an abuse of:
    • Position;
    • Trust;
    • Rank; and/or
    • Taking advantage of an individual’s separation.

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