Have you had a hard time finding a written policy about politics in the workplace? There’s a reason for that. Unlike the uniform anti-harassment or drug-free workplace policies, there is no one-size-fits-all standard policy for political behaviors at work.
While having a political voice is a freedom we enjoy in the U.S., it’s also a divisive topic that needs to be carefully handled at the workplace. You must be thoughtful about the culture you want to maintain or establish and decide from there what to include in your policy.
There are, however, a few rules to keep in mind when establishing your Politics in the Workplace Policy:
- Employees cannot be restricted from discussing work conditions or participating in any concerted activity protected by the NLRA. So while you may ban the wearing of campaign paraphernalia to work, an employee who wears a candidate’s shirt that says, “Vote for her! She’ll raise the minimum wage!” is protected, as that pertains to work conditions.
- Be cautious when establishing any bans. If employees are able to use email and phones during non-working hours for non-work-related activities, they may also use them for political activities during non-working hours. If employees leave fundraiser flyers in the breakroom for their child’s little league team, they must also be able to leave political flyers. Political activity can’t be treated differently than other non-work activity.
- Any bans must be uniformly applied to everyone within the company; no special exceptions for managers or executives.
- There may be state laws to consider that provide additional political protections at work. Be sure to check your local and state laws before implementing your Politics in the Workplace Policy.
With that in mind, here are several statements for private employers to consider including in their Politics in the Workplace Policy:
- Employees are encouraged to be involved in the political process and will be accommodated to vote on election day [before, during or after work hours].
- Employees are prohibited from campaigning for a candidate or specific party during work hours.
- Employees cannot use their position within the company to coerce or pressure subordinates, staff members, vendors, or suppliers to support and/or make contributions to a particular candidate or political cause.
- Employees may not use company assets or equipment (bulletin boards, copy machines, telephones, computer, email) to support a particular candidate or party.
- Employees are prohibited from harassing coworkers, vendors and customers for their political beliefs.
- Employees who choose to participate in political activities during work hours must ask for time off in advance and use available [vacation, PTO, or non-paid leave] for their absence.
- No person can engage in any form of political activity on company premises during work hours at any time. Any political activity outside of work hours on company premises must receive written consent by [the executive team].
- In the event a company facility is used as a campaign ground for a political figure, employees are not required to attend.
- Employer-sponsored social media accounts will not be used to post political viewpoints or opinions. Any such misuse may be subject to disciplinary action.
- Employees may not wear political paraphernalia (logos, buttons, t-shirts, hats, etc.) to work, especially in positions that frequently interact with the public.
- Employees may not wear work-related paraphernalia to political rallies or functions that may imply the Company’s support for that candidate and/or party.
- Any political discussion that causes an employee to feel discriminated against, retaliated against or bullied is strictly prohibited and may be subject to disciplinary action.
As with any policy, your purpose is to establish expectations and to maintain a collaborative, positive workplace where employees do not feel intimidated, harassed or otherwise pressured to support one particular candidate or party over another.
For further assistance with developing your Politics in the Workplace Policy, please contact our certified HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.
Do you need a Politics in the Workplace Policy? Here are the rules and several sample policy phrases.