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Employers May Ban Handshakes in the Workplace Under the ‘No Physical Contact’ Rules

Maybe we should fist bump instead?

A handshake is not a big deal, right? Meaning, no one should be sued for sexual harassment just because a person shook hands with someone. But with the advent of the #MeToo Movement and with more women feeling braver to put boundaries when it comes to physical contact, the handshake may be the next to get banned, in the workplace no less.

There are actually some employers who are considering banning handshakes as part of the physical contact policies in the workplace.

Unbelievably, there is a survey that shows that three out of four people want a total ban on physical contact in the office.

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at HR consultancy Peninsula, told Metro UK that “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.”

The #MeToo Movement is the turning point for such development.

“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.”

“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.”

Palmer added that the level of contact that is appropriate will vary from person to person and that different sectors may have different norms.

For instance, it may be okay to pat someone in the back when in a construction site, but the same is not acceptable in an office setting.

She said that employers should consider their policies for physical contact and ensure that their staff will be trained according to those rules.

She also added the need for a clear grievance policy so people will be comfortable to come forward with complaints.

Palmer also cleared that the workplace may go beyond the confines of the office.

“The workplace does extend outside the office,’ Kate said. ‘The classic example is the Christmas night out. We get a lot of queries about how to control staff behaviour at events.”

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