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The Hatch Act: Political Activity and the Federal Employee

The Hatch Act: Political Activity and the Federal Employee

What is the Hatch Act and how does it apply to me?

Who are “further restricted” employees?

Who are “less restricted” employees?

Where can I find a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for political activities?

Where can I find additional information about political activity restrictions for Federal employees? 

The Hatch Act

The Hatch Act restricts federal employee participation in certain partisan political activities.  The political activity restrictions apply during the entire time of an employee’s federal service.  Certain rules prohibit both on-duty and off-duty conduct.

Partisan political activities are those activities directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.  While most Federal employees are permitted to take an active part in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns, the Hatch Act does prohibit certain participation by all Federal employees.  Federal employees may not seek public office in partisan elections, use their official title or authority when engaging in political activity, solicit or receive contributions for partisan political candidates or groups, and engage in political activity while on duty. 

FDA employees are categorized into “less restricted” and “further restricted” employees.  

Further Restricted Employees

Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) officers, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), and Career Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are subject to further restrictive rules and cannot engage in partisan political activities even during off-duty hours or while away from work. These employees are largely limited to exercising the most basic rights of civic participation, such as voting, making political contributions, and expressing individual opinions.

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Less Restricted Employees

All other civilian FDA employees are considered “less restricted’ employees.

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"Do's and Don'ts"

Permitted and Prohibited Activities for most Federal Employees

Permitted and Prohibited Activities for Federal Employees subject to further restrictions.

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Additional Information

Office of the General Counsel, Ethics Division developed a Hatch Act Online Training Module on the partisan political activity restrictions applicable to federal employees.

For additional resources, please see:

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