27th Anniversary of Hatch Act Reform Law: What You Need to Know

Categories: The Insider

October 6 marks the 27th anniversary of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.  

The 1993 law amended the original 1939 Hatch Act, which originally prohibited nearly all partisan political activities by federal employees.  

The 1993 law allowed federal employees to engage in partisan political activities during off-duty hours so that they can exercise their democratic rights as American citizens -- for the first time in over 50 years. 

As a federal employee, you are allowed to express your political views when you are not on duty -- unless you fall into a very narrow band of more highly regulated employees. AFGE has very few of those in our bargaining units. If you are uncertain, go to the Office of Special Counsel website and click on Further Restricted Employees. 

As the November election draws near, we want to make sure you know your Hatch Act rights as a federal employee.  

Here are safe activities when off duty, off site, not in uniform, not using government equipment or systems:  

  • Contact your elected officials to educate them about federal employee issues.  
  • Display a candidate bumper sticker on your personal vehicle.  
  • Attend a candidate rally.  
  • Put a candidate sign in your yard or windows.  
  • Express your opinion about a candidate, participate in a phone bank, or canvass for votes for a candidate.  
  • Send political materials of your choice to AFGE members at their home address or home email.  
  • Conduct a voter registration drive.  

Safe activities while at work:   

  • Talk with your co-workers about legislative and agency issues like pay, working conditions, contracting out, and personnel reform.  
  • Invite all employees, AFGE members, and potential members to a meeting at work to discuss issues affecting them. Then, sign up new members.  
  • Post fliers about issues important to federal employees on bulletin boards.  
  • Hold a rally, set up a picket line, or hold a press conference on federal employee issues. These are not Hatch Act violations, but you may want to check other regulations limiting these types of activities that may apply to your agency.  

For additional information or questions about political fundraising, visit the OSC website

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