Politically Restricted Posts
The employees to whom the restrictions apply are those holding what are described in the Act as 'politically restricted' posts, and they are as follows:
(a) Directors and their Deputies (including Head of Service and any person who, although not given the title of Deputy, is required to report directly, or is directly accountable for, all or most of the duties of their post, to one or more of the Directors).
(b) Any other officers shown in the scheme of delegation as exercising delegated powers.
(c) Post other than those in (a) and (b) above which are listed by the Council:
- (i) At or above a specified salary level, except where the Independent Adjudicator (see below) has directed that the post should be exempt
- (ii) Below the specified salary level, but which the Council considers fall within certain criteria, except where the Adjudicator has allowed an appeal against the authority's judgement on the question
Postholders are prohibited from announcing (or authorising or permitting anyone else to announce) their candidature for election to a local authority, the House of Commons or the European Parliament. Procedures for reinstatement of those who had resigned their local authority appointment and had fought and lost an election are left for negotiation between each employer and their staff.
The regulations also prohibit politically restricted postholders from being an officer of a political party or any of its branches or a member of any of its committees or sub-committees where the duties would be likely to require:
- (i) Participation in the general management of the party or branch; or
- (ii) Acting on behalf of the party or the branch in dealing with non-party members
The term 'political party' is not given a definition within the regulations. Politically restricted postholders are restricted from canvassing on behalf of a political party or for a person who is, or seeks to be, a candidate for election to a local authority, the House of Commons, or the European Parliament.
The restriction on canvassing is not limited to activities in the area of the local authority employing the politically restricted postholder. The prohibition includes acting as an election agent or subagent on the basis that the term 'canvassing' includes acting in such a capacity.
Postholders are not permitted to speak in public where there is an apparent intention to affect public support for a political party.
Similarly, such postholders are not permitted to publish any written or artistic work whether as author or editor, not can they authorise or permit another person to publish such work if the work appears to be intended to affect public support for a political party.
However, this prohibition does not preclude the display of a poster or other document at the postholder's home or on his or her car or other personal possessions. These restrictions are to be interpreted so as not to prevent the officer from carrying out their official duties.
Politically 'sensitive' posts
Two criteria for politically sensitive posts (Section (c)(ii)) are specified in the Act - these are posts whose duties consist in, or involve:
- giving advice regularly to the authority themselves, or to a committee, sub-committee or joint committee (the Government have indicated that they do not consider the mere provision of purely factual information constitutes giving advice)
- speaking on behalf of the authority regularly to journalists or broadcasters
If you are an employee falling within category (ii) you are entitled to appeal direct to the Independent Adjudicator for a direction as to whether the post is politically sensitive.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator
2 Marsham Street