What You Can Do When On/Off Duty This Election Season: A Hatch Act Primer

Categories: The Insider, Election 2020

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

First of all, what is the Hatch Act? The Hatch Act is a federal law that limits what you can do while at work, wearing a government uniform, using government equipment, or in a government vehicle.  

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. 

The first thing you can do, however, is make sure that AFGE has your personal, home email address and phone number. Visit this page to update your information. 

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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