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political activity policy
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Political activity policy

Political activity policy

Our political activity policy establishes a code of conduct regarding employees’ political activity in the workplace. It accepts employees have a right to hold political opinions and to engage in political activity outside work, but prohibits them from undertaking political activity at work and seeks to protect the business and its reputation in relation to what the employee does outside work.

Legislation

Under the Human Rights Act 1998, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to freedom of expression. However, these rights are not absolute as they must be balanced against the rights of others. For example, employees do not have the right to express views in a way that violates the rights of others to be treated with respect and dignity. Therefore, an employee can’t avoid being disciplined for political harassment of a colleague by relying on their right to freedom of expression.

One of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 is religion or belief, which includes philosophical beliefs and this in turn can include beliefs based on political philosophy (as opposed to just political opinion, or membership of a political party). However, to be a philosophical belief, case law has held that it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and therefore racist political philosophies would not satisfy this criterion and will not be protected.

Fair discipline/dismissal

While membership of a political party is unlikely of itself to be a fair reason for discipline or dismissal, it may be fair to discipline or dismiss an employee for unacceptable conduct based on their political beliefs. For example, if the employee has been using working time or work equipment to campaign on behalf of a political party or has expressed extreme political views to clients. So, when drafting a policy, you need to strike a balance between respecting the rights of employees to hold personal political views and to take part in political activity in their own free time and your rights to protect your business, its reputation and your other staff. 

Prohibitions and restrictions

Our Political Activity Policy accepts that employees have rights to hold political opinions but prohibits them from taking part in any type of political activity whilst at work. For the avoidance of doubt, we have set out a detailed list of prohibitions during working time. Our policy then acknowledges that employees are free to engage in political activity outside work, but emphasises the importance of not conducting themselves in a way that could be detrimental to the business or its relationships. Therefore, we’ve also included a short list of restrictions on political activity outside work, all aimed at protecting the business.

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