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Political Activity

Political Activity Quick Guide PDF (282 KB)

Preamble

It is in the best interest of the public that Government services and programs be implemented and advice provided in a politically neutral manner. The Political Activity Policy addresses the need for a balance between employees' rights to engage in political activities and the requirement for the provincial public service to be politically impartial.

Participation in political activities should not compromise or be perceived as compromising employees' performance of their duties in an impartial manner. Consideration must be given to employees' duties in the organization and the nature of the political activities in which they wish to participate.

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Policy Statement

The right of Government employees to participate in political activities must be balanced with the requirement for an impartial and effective public service.

This Policy addresses two categories of political activities:

  • participating in any activity in support of or in opposition to a political party and/or candidate;
  • seeking the nomination or being a candidate in an election.

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Application

This Policy applies to all employees. Bargaining unit employees should also consult their respective collective agreements.

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Definitions

Political Activities - include seeking nomination or being a candidate in an election or participating in any activity which supports or opposes a political candidate and/or political party.

Politically Restricted Employees – employees who meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • paid on the Executive Pay Plan;
  • report directly to, speak on behalf of, or provide advice, opinions or recommendations to the Premier, Cabinet, Treasury Board, a Minister, or a Deputy Minister;
  • have access to confidential information related to the development of government policy;
  • have been delegated discretion over, or provide advice regarding, the allocation of departmental funds, especially grants to persons, businesses or other organizations;
  • have been delegated discretion in regard to the provision of services to persons, businesses or other organizations; and
  • have contact with the media.

Please refer to the Assessment Tool to Determine Whether a Position is Politically Restricted PDF (96 KB).

Politically Non-Restricted Employees – all other employees who are not politically restricted employees as defined above.

Political Support Staff - individuals hired by a Minister and paid on the PS Scale to provide administrative support and/or operational support to the Minister's Office or the Premier's Office.

Political Party – a registered organization formed in accordance with provincial or federal law for the purpose of contesting an election of members of a legislative assembly.

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Responsibilities

Human Resource Secretariat

It is the responsibility of the Human Resource Secretariat to:

  • review the Political Activity Policy and provide recommendations for revisions to Treasury Board as appropriate; and
  • provide interpretation and guidance to departments regarding this Policy.

Department

It is the responsibility of Deputy Ministers to ensure that:

  • adherence to this Policy is monitored;
  • any breaches of this Policy are addressed; and
  • disciplinary action is imposed for contraventions of this Policy.

Employee

It is the responsibility of all employees to ensure that:

  • they adhere to the Political Activity Policy;
  • their participation in a political activity does not impair their impartiality in the performance of their duties;
  • they do not engage in any form of political activity at the workplace or during work hours, with the exception of voting in an election; and
  • when, prior to engaging in a political activity, employees are uncertain as to whether they are restricted or non-restricted, they are required to seek a determination by the Deputy Minister.

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General Provisions Regarding Political Activities

Political activities include a range of activities from being a candidate in an election to engaging in activities to support or oppose a political candidate or party. Limitations on employees' participation in political activities are in place to protect the impartiality of the public service. Employees' participation in political activities must not impact their impartial performance, and the perception of the impartial performance, of their duties and responsibilities.

Employees who are considering engaging in political activity should complete an assessment to assist in determining whether they would be considered politically restricted. Please refer to the Assessment Tool to Determine Whether a Position is Politically Restricted PDF (96 KB)

If, prior to engaging in any political activity, employees are uncertain as to whether they are restricted or non-restricted, they are required to seek a determination by the Deputy Minister.

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Employees

All employees can vote in an election.

Prohibited Activities

All employees are prohibited from the following activities:

  • engaging in any form of political activity at the workplace or during work hours, with the exception of voting in an election;
  • wearing or displaying at the workplace anything that supports or opposes a candidate or party;
  • using Government premises, supplies, equipment, email or services for the purposes of any political activity;
  • soliciting funds for a party or candidate; and
  • participating in other political activities that are deemed inappropriate by the Deputy Minister, in consultation with the Human Resource Secretariat.

Politically Non-Restricted Employees

Politically non-restricted employees may participate in the following activities, provided that they maintain impartiality in the performance of their duties, do not publicly criticize the policy decisions and directions of the employer and do not perform political activities at the workplace:

  • belonging to a political party;
  • signing nomination papers;
  • performing administrative tasks for a party or candidate (such as stuffing envelopes or answering or receiving telephone calls);
  • making a financial contribution to a party;
  • displaying a sign at their personal residence;
  • serving as a campaign manager;
  • attending political conventions as a delegate or observer;
  • serving as an executive with a political party;
  • attending or speaking at public rallies and meetings;
  • canvassing door to door;
  • writing speeches or promotional materials;
  • publishing or publicly broadcasting partisan statements (including newspaper, radio, television, and media comments);
  • using blogs, social networking sites (for example, Twitter and Facebook), video sharing (for example, YouTube) and websites to express personal views in support of or in opposition to a political party or candidate;
  • wearing or displaying, outside of the workplace, signs, buttons, etc. that support or oppose a candidate or party; and
  • other political activities that are deemed appropriate by the Deputy Minister, in consultation with the Human Resource Secretariat.

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Running as a Candidate in an Election

Politically non-restricted employees who choose to run as candidates in a provincial, federal or Nunatsiavut Assembly election must apply to their Deputy Minister for a period of leave without pay. This leave of absence will be granted unless the absence is considered to have an unreasonable impact on the program or service in which the person is employed and an accommodation cannot reasonably be made in the time available.

The period of leave without pay should commence upon an employee's public announcement to seek the nomination or the day he/she files the necessary nomination documentation with a political party, whichever date is the earliest, or an earlier date that may be agreed upon by the employee and the Deputy Minister.

Politically non-restricted employees may participate in municipal elections and hold municipal office with the written consent of their Deputy Minister. This is providing they maintain impartiality in the performance of their provincial public service employment duties, do not publicly criticize the policy decisions and directions of the employer, and do not perform political activities at the workplace. Should occasions arise in their municipal work that place them in a conflict because of their role with the employer, the employee would be expected to remove themselves from such discussions and decisions.

Post Elections

Politically non-restricted employees who are successful candidates in a federal, provincial or Nunatsiavut Assembly election must resign their positions when the election results are finalized.

Politically non-restricted employees who have taken a leave of absence without pay and are unsuccessful in either the nomination or the election are entitled to resume their position at a date agreed upon by their Deputy Minister. In order to facilitate this process, their former positions will not be advertised on a permanent basis until the election results are finalized.

The period of absence or leave without pay will not be considered a break in service but it will not count as service.

Please see the Table of Political Activities PDF (85 KB).

Politically Restricted Employees

Due to the nature of their current duties and responsibilities, some employees are considered to be politically restricted. To determine whether employees are deemed politically restricted, an analysis of their current duties and responsibilities should be completed. The analysis would include consideration of the employees':

  • role in influencing decisions;
  • involvement in policy, program and strategy development;
  • nature of their contact with Ministers and Executive;
  • access to confidential information related to the development of government policy;
  • delegated discretion over, or provision of advice regarding, the allocation of departmental funds, especially grants to persons, businesses or other organizations;
  • delegated discretion in regard to the provision of services to persons, businesses or other organizations; and
  • contact with the media.

In addition to the activities for which all employees are prohibited, politically restricted employees are also prohibited from participating in the following political activities:

  • belonging to a political party;
  • signing nomination papers;
  • performing administrative tasks for a party or candidate (such as stuffing envelopes or answering or receiving telephone calls);
  • making a financial contribution to a party;
  • displaying a sign at their personal residence;
  • serving as a campaign manager;
  • serving as an executive with a political party;
  • attending or speaking at public rallies and meetings;
  • canvassing door to door;
  • writing speeches or promotional materials;
  • publishing or publicly broadcasting partisan statements (including newspaper, radio, television, and media comments);
  • using blogs, social networking sites (for example, Twitter and Facebook), video sharing (for example, YouTube) and websites to express personal views in support of or in opposition to a political party or candidate;
  • attending political conventions as a delegate or observer;
  • wearing or displaying, outside of the workplace, signs, buttons, etc. that support or oppose a candidate or party;
  • publicly criticizing the policy decisions and directions of the employer; and
  • other political activities that are deemed inappropriate by the Deputy Minister, in consultation with the Human Resource Secretariat.

Running as a Candidate in an Election or Engaging in Political Activity

Politically restricted employees who choose to engage in political activity, including candidacy for elected office, are required to resign prior to carrying out such political activity.

Politically restricted employees should resign when they publicly announce that they are seeking the nomination or on the day he/she files the necessary nomination documentation with a political party, whichever date is the earliest, or on an earlier date that may be agreed upon by the employee and the Deputy Minister.

With the exception of Executives, politically restricted employees may participate in municipal elections and hold municipal office with the written consent of their Deputy Minister. This is providing they maintain impartiality in the performance of their provincial public service employment duties, do not publicly criticize the policy decisions and directions of the employer, and do not perform political activities at the workplace. Should occasions arise in their municipal work that place them in a conflict because of their role with the employer, the employee would be expected to remove themselves from such discussions and decisions.

Post Elections

Executives who resign their positions but fail to gain nomination or be elected and those for whom partisan political activities have ended may subsequently apply to the Clerk of the Executive Council for reinstatement to their former position. There is no guarantee that reinstatement will be approved. In order to facilitate this process, their former positions will not be advertised on a permanent basis until the election results are finalized.

Politically restricted employees who resign their positions but fail to gain nomination or be elected and those for whom partisan political activities have ended may subsequently apply to their Deputy Minister for reinstatement to their former positions. There is no guarantee that reinstatement will be approved. In order to facilitate this process, their former positions will not be advertised on a permanent basis until the election results are finalized.

Where Executives and politically restricted employees are reappointed, the period of absence will not be considered a break in service but it will not count as service.

Please see the Table of Political Activities PDF (85 KB).

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Political Support Staff

For the purpose of this Policy, political support staff members are considered to be politically non-restricted. The appropriateness of the political activities undertaken by this group will be determined by the respective Minister.

Political support staff members who choose to run as candidates would apply to the Minister for a period of leave without pay. The period of leave without pay should commence upon an employee's public announcement to seek the nomination or the day he/she files the necessary nomination documentation with a political party, whichever date is the earliest, or an earlier date that may be agreed upon by the employee and the Minister.

This period of leave without pay will not be considered a break in service but it will not count as service.

Successful candidates in an election must resign their positions when the election results are finalized.

Political support staff members who have taken a leave of absence without pay and who withdraw as nominees or candidates or are unsuccessful in either the nomination or the election, may resume their position at a date agreed upon by their Minister.

Consequences of Improper Political Activities

Contravention of this Policy may result in disciplinary action.

Related Legislation and Policies:

Conflict of Interest Act, 1995
Elections Act, 1991

Last Policy Update: July 25, 2011

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Last Updated:
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