The Hatch Act limits certain political activities of Federal employees both on and off duty. (Members of the Senior Executive Service, are subject to further restrictions and should contact the General Counsel's office for additional guidance.) Violations of the Hatch Act may result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal.
The term "political activity" means doing something in active support of or opposition to a political party, a candidate for partisan political office (e.g., President, senator, representative, state or local legislature or office), or a partisan political group (e.g., "Historians for Smith").
Examples of political activity that would violate the Hatch Act if done while on duty or using Government property include:
Permissible political activity under the Hatch Act would include:
The "Permitted and Prohibited Activities for Most Federal Employees” fact sheet provides a basic overview of permissible and prohibited political activities.
Employees should not rely on the opinions of friends or co-workers when they have questions with regard to a specific political activity. Ignorance of the law does not excuse an employee's violation of the Hatch Act. Reliance on incorrect or unofficial information also does not excuse a violation.
Teleworking away from the traditional office is considered “while on duty.” From whatever location an employee teleworks, that site constitutes his or her place of duty for that particular workday. If employees are teleworking from home or another site, they are on duty and may not engage in political activities in their home or elsewhere while they are on duty.
Employees participating in virtual work-related conferences are subject to the same on duty Hatch Act restrictions as when they attend meetings or communicate in person with others at work. For example, employees may not wear a campaign t-shirt or hat while participating in a work-related video conference call, and they must ensure that any partisan materials, like campaign signs or candidate pictures, are not visible to others during the call.
Employees may use their personal computer or personal mobile phone to engage in partisan political activity after they finish teleworking for the day. However, employees may not use their government computer or government mobile phone to engage in any political activity on or off duty.
For more information, review the Hatch Act Advisory for Teleworking Employees.
The Hatch Act prohibition on engaging in political activities while on duty or in a government office applies to all social media and other online activities.
Employees are prohibited from posting, blogging, retweeting, and liking partisan political content while on duty. While it is not a Hatch Act violation to receive a partisan political email while on duty, it is a violation to forward or share political email while on duty, in a government office, or with others from a government email address.
When off duty, an employee may advocate for or against a political party or candidate on social media or through other online activities. While engaging in these activities employees may not solicit contributions on social media, through other online activities, or in person. Fundraising is a 24/7 prohibition whether on duty or off duty and applies regardless of the technology used whether it be personal or government devices.
* Soliciting, accepting, or receiving such donations or contributions may be done so long as the person being solicited is:
1)a member of the same federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))); 2)not a subordinate employee; and 3) the solicitation is for a contribution to the multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))) of such federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of the enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2) U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))).