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Federal Employee Hatch Act Information

Except for the President and Vice President, all federal civilian executive branch employees are covered by the Hatch Act, including employees of the U.S. Postal Service. Even part-time employees are covered by the Act, and all employees continue to be covered while on annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay, or furlough. However, employees who work on an occasional or irregular basis, or who are special government employees, as defined in title 18 U.S.C. § 202(a), are subject to the restrictions only when they are engaged in government business. Federal employees fall within two categories under the Hatch Act, Further Restricted and Less Restricted.​

​Less ​Restricted Employe​es​​

 Accordion Control - Less Restricted

 Who Are Less Restricted Employees?

​Most federal executive branch employees (except those listed under Further Restricted Employees) are considered Less Restricted under the Hatch Act. Less Restricted employees may take an active part in partisan political management or partisan political campaigns.​

 Prohibited Activities for Less Restricted Employees

​Less restricted federal employees may not:

  • Use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election, by for example:

    • ​Using their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity

    • Inviting subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggesting to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity

  • Solicit, accept or receive a donation or contribution for a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group by for example:

    • Hosting a political fundraiser

    • Collecting contributions or selling tickets to political fundraising functions*

  • Be candidates for partisan political office

  • Knowingly solicit or discourage the participation in any political activity of anyone who has business pending before their employing office

  • Engage in political activity – i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group – while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle. For example, while at work employees may not:

    • Distribute campaign materials or items

    • Display campaign materials or items

    • Perform campaign related chores

    • ​Wear or display partisan political buttons, t-shirts, signs, or other items

    • Make political contributions to a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

    • Post a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

    • ​Use any email account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

​* Soliciting, accepting, or receiving such donations or contributions may be done so long as the person being solicited is: 1) a member of the same federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))); 2) not a subordinate employee; and 3) the solicitation is for a contribution to the multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))) of such federal labor organization as defined under section 7103(4) of this title or a federal employee organization which as of the date of the enactment of the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 had a multicandidate political committee (as defined under section 315(a)(4)of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2) U.S.C. 441a(a)(4))).  However, because of the political activity on duty prohibition (5 U.S.C. 7324(a)), employees may not solicit, accept, or receive these donations while on duty or in the workplace. 

 Permitted Activities for Less Restricted Employees

​ ​Less restricted federal employees may engage in partisan political management and campaigns. Such employees, for example, may:​

  • Be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections

  • Register and vote as they choose

  • Assist in voter registration drives

  • Contribute money to political campaigns, political parties, or partisan political groups

  • Attend political fundraising functions

  • Attend and be active at political rallies and meetings

  • Join and be an active member of political clubs or parties

  • Hold office in political clubs or parties

  • Sign and circulate nominating petitions

  • Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, or municipal ordinances

  • Campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections

  • Make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections

  • Distribute campaign literature in partisan elections

  • Volunteer to work on a partisan political campaign

  • Express opinions about candidates and issues. If the expression is political activity, however – i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group – then the expression is not permitted while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle​

​Further Restr​icted Employees​​

 Accordion Control - Further Restricted

 Who Are Further Restricted Employees?

​Further restricted federal executive branch employees are prohibited from engaging in partisan political management or partisan political campaigns. Generally, Further Restricted employees are those employed in intelligence and enforcement-type agencies (except employees appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate). More specifically, Further Restricted employees are employed by the following agencies (or components) or in the following positions:

  • Federal Election Commission;

  • Election Assistance Commission;

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation;

  • Secret Service;

  • Central Intelligence Agency;

  • National Security Council;

  • National Security Agency;

  • Defense Intelligence Agency;

  • Merit Systems Protection Board;

  • Office of Special Counsel;

  • Office of Criminal Investigation of the Internal Revenue Service;

  • Office of Investigative Programs of the United States Customs Service;

  • Office of Law Enforcement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms;

  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency;

  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence;

  • Criminal Division of the Department of Justice;

  • National Security Division of the Department of Justice; as well as

  • Persons employed in positions described under Sections 3132(a)(4), 5372, 5372 (a), or 5372(b) of Title 5, United States Code, including:

    • Senior Executive Service [career positions described at 5 U.S.C. § 3132 (a)(4)]

    • Administrative Law Judges [positions described at 5 U.S.C. § 5372]

    • Contract Appeals Board Members [positions described at 5 U.S.C. § 5372 (a)]

    • ​Administrative Appeals Judges [positions described at 5 U.S.C. § 5372(b)]​​

 Prohibited Activities for Further Restricted Employees

​Further Restricted federal employees are prohibited from taking an active part in partisan political management or partisan political campaigns. Specifically, these employees may not campaign for or against candidates or otherwise engage in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group. Such employees may not:

  • Be a candidate for nomination or election to public office in a partisan election

  • Take an active part in partisan political campaigns, by, for example:

    • Campaigning for or against a candidate or slate of candidates

    • Making campaign speeches or engaging in other campaign activities to elect partisan candidates

    • Distributing campaign material in partisan elections

    • Circulating nominating petitions

  • Take an active part in partisan political management by,  for example:

    • Holding office in political clubs or parties

    • Organizing or manage political rallies or meetings

    • Assisting in partisan voter registration drives

  • Use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election by, for example:

    • Using their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity

    • Inviting subordinate employees to political events or otherwise suggesting to subordinates that they attend political events or undertake any partisan political activity

  • Solicit, accept or receive a donation or contribution for a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group by, for example:

    • Hosting a political fundraiser

    • Inviting others to a political fundraise.

    • Collecting contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions

  • Engage in political activity – i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group – while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle. For example, while at work employees may not:

    • Wear or display partisan political buttons, t-shirts, signs, or other items

    • Make political contributions to a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

    • Post a comment to a blog or a social media site that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

    • ​Use any email or social media account to distribute, send or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group

 Permitted Activities for Further Restricted Employees

​As discussed, Further Restricted federal employees are prohibited from taking an active part in partisan political management or partisan political campaigns. Specifically, these employees may not campaign for or against candidates or otherwise engage in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group. However, such employees may, for example:

  • Register and vote as they choose

  • Assist in nonpartisan voter registration drives

  • Participate in campaigns where none of the candidates represent a political party

  • Contribute money to political campaigns, political parties, or partisan political groups

  • Attend political fundraising functions

  • Attend political rallies and meetings

  • Join political clubs or parties

  • Sign nominating petitions

  • Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, or municipal ordinances

  • Be a candidate for public office in a nonpartisan election

  • Express opinions about candidates and issues. If the expression is political activity, however – i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group – then the expression is not permitted while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle.​​

​Penalties and Relevant Laws​

 Accordion Control - Penalties

 Penalties

​The penalty structure for violations of the Hatch Act by federal employees includes removal from federal service, reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for a period not to exceed 5 years, suspension, reprimand, or a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.

 Statutes

​​​​

 Regulations

  • ​Political Activity - Federal Employee​​​s Resi​ding in Designated Localities 5 C.F.R. § 733

  • Political Activities of Federal Employees 5 C.F.R. § 7​​34​​​

  • Subpart A – General Provisions 5 C.F.R. § 734

  • Subpart B – Permitted Activities 5 C.F.R. § 734

  • Subpart C – Prohibited Activities 5 C.F.R. § 734

  • Subpart D – Employees in Certain Agencies and Positions 5 CFR § 734

  • Subpart E – Special Provisions for Certain Presidential Appointees and Employees Paid From the Appropriations for the Executive Office of the President 5 CFR § 734

  • Subpart F – Employees Who Work on an Irregular of Occasional Basis 5 CFR § 734

  • Subpart G – Related Statutes and Executive Orders 5 CFR § 734​​​​