HR considerations in the run-up to the General Election

  • HR Policies Documentation
general election
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

After much speculation about when the General Election will be called, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has announced that it will take place on Thursday 4 July 2024. General Elections don’t come around that often, the last one was in 2019 before the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. When they do come around though HR issues can surface in the run-up to polling day.

No statutory right to take time off work to vote or campaign

Voting is a key part of living in a democratic society and many employees will be keen to ensure that they exercise that right. Polling stations have long opening hours – 7am to 10pm – so that people can vote around other commitments. There is, therefore, no statutory right for an employee to have time off work to go and vote.

There is also no statutory right for an employee to have time off work to campaign for a political party.

A situation might arise, however, where an employee approaches you to say that they will struggle to get to the polling station in time to vote because of work, or to ask if they can have some time off to campaign.

Even though there is no statutory right to time off, in the interests of employee relations you could discuss with them whether there are any options that could help them like:

·       annual leave

·       unpaid leave

·       amending start/finish times

·       taking time off and making it up another day

·       using banked time off in lieu (TOIL).

What are the main political parties' plans for HR if they win the General Election?

Do I need to give staff time off to vote in the General Election?

Can I stop employees from wearing political symbols at work like pin badges and t-shirts?

Childcare issues

Employees might find themselves faced with having to find alternative childcare if schools are used as polling stations. Play groups and before/after school clubs could also be affected if the community space or village hall is used as a polling station. This might mean that the employee’s usual arrangements are disrupted on 4th July.

Employees should get plenty of notice if the school, play group, or before/after school club is closing so that they can make other arrangements. However, if an employee is struggling to sort anything else out, then consider all the options available like annual/unpaid leave, taking time off and making it up another day, or using banked time off in lieu (TOIL).

Political Activity Policy

Discussions about politics in the workplace can easily escalate given its divisive nature. Setting out clear rules in a policy, including the potential repercussions if there is a breach, is a good way to manage it.

You can also set rules to ban employees wearing political clothing and badges at work and ban employees from canvassing in the workplace in an effort to stop tensions and conflicts arising.

Make sure that everyone is treated equally, so if political talk, symbols, clothing, badges, and canvassing are banned, then this should apply to all parties.

Our HR documentation team can provide you with a Political Activity Policy that covers all the above points.

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