The Postal Service wants employees to know that the Hatch Act’s rules on politicking in the workplace also apply when working from home.
The Hatch Act is a law that prohibits USPS and other federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty.
Under the Hatch Act, employees are “on duty” when they are in a “pay status” other than paid leave, compensatory time off, credit hours, time off as an incentive award, or when they are excused or have an authorized absence, including leave without pay.
Employees are also on duty when they represent the Postal Service in an official capacity.
Lunch is considered an off-duty activity.
Those maintaining a regular work schedule while teleworking have the same on-duty status as if they were reporting to their regular duty stations. In other words: These employees are subject to Hatch Act regulations.
Employees wishing to engage in political activity by, for example, posting their views about a candidate on social media or making political donations, must ensure they aren’t on duty when engaging in such activities.
Likewise, 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.
This means employees shouldn’t wear campaign-related clothing while participating in a work-related video conference call, and they should ensure that partisan materials, like campaign signs or candidate pictures, are not visible to others during the call.
It’s also forbidden to add a background or profile photo showing support for or opposition to a political party, partisan political group or candidate for partisan political office.
While using social media to stay connected to others, it’s important to remember the Hatch Act’s social media guidelines.
The Ethics Blue page has more Hatch Act resources, including a “Let’s Talk Politics!” fact sheet. Employees who have questions can contact their local field law office or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.