With the increase in home-based telework due to recent events and the upcoming presidential election, Department of Defense (DOD) employees may have questions about allowable political activity. The Hatch Act and DOD policy govern the political activities of DOD civilian employees. Among other restrictions, the statute and regulation prohibit employees from engaging in political activities in a federal workplace; while on duty; while wearing a government uniform, badge, or insignia; and/or while using a government vehicle. (U.S. Army Graphic Illustration)
With the increase in home-based telework due to recent events and the upcoming presidential election, Department of Defense (DOD) employees may have questions about allowable political activity. The Hatch Act and DOD policy govern the political activities of DOD civilian employees. Among other restrictions, the statute and regulation prohibit employees from engaging in political activities in a federal workplace; while on duty; while wearing a government uniform, badge, or insignia; and/or while using a government vehicle. (U.S. Army Graphic Illustration) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

With the 2020 presidential election less than two month away, it’s a good time for employees to review some key dos and don’ts.

“Active-duty Soldiers may not engage in partisan political activities, and should avoid activities that imply or appear to imply United States Army support or approval of any political party, campaign, candidate, or cause,” said Army Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin in a February memo. He added, “While many civilian DoD employees may take an active part in certain political activities, the extent and nature of their participation is limited by the Hatch Act and DoD policy.”

The Hatch Act lays out clear guidelines and restrictions for government employees. According to the Office of Special Counsel, the laws are designed to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.

Employees may not use their official authority/position in an attempt to affect the outcome of an election or engage in political activity at any place in a federal building or inside a federal vehicle, nor while on duty – telework included – or while wearing a government uniform or badge. Display of buttons, posters or other paraphernalia emblazoned with partisan candidates is prohibited while at work. However, employees may display one single bumper sticker per candidate on their personal vehicles.

Additionally, it is especially important for teleworking employees to be mindful of their attire and items visible in the background while on video conferences. Government laptops and phones may not be used to engage in political activity after duty hours.

For more information on the Hatch Act, go to https://osc.gov/Services/Pages/HatchAct.aspx