General Election: What can I do as a civil servant?

The general election takes place on 4 July. In the period leading up to it there is increased scrutiny of the civil service and individual civil servants. It’s important that you understand your  roles and responsibilities during this time.

The Cabinet Office has published guidance explaining the roles and responsibilities of civil servants in a pre-election period. During this time, previously known as ’purdah’, the civil service must act, and be seen to act, in a way that is politically impartial.

Whilst government departments and agencies should refrain from making policy decisions and announcements which are of “a continuing or long-term character”, individual civil servants must also be careful about what they say or do.

The kind of political activity you can take part in during the pre-election period will largely depend on your grade. Grade 6/7 and above are politically restricted whilst industrial and non-office grades are politically free; for everyone else in between, it will be up to your department to decide.

The civil service should remain neutral during an election period. This includes how they deal with candidates, irrespective of which party they represent. If you feel that you have been asked or required to do anything that goes against the civil service code you should speak with a PCS Rep as soon as possible. You can find their details by logging in to PCS Digital.

Political statements as a PCS Rep

If you are making political statements during the pre-election period as a PCS Rep, it should be in line with PCS policy. You should also make clear that you are speaking as a rep and not as a civil servant.

If you are in doubt you should check with your full-time officer or group executive. Guidance is also available on PCS Digital.

Our strategy

Our NEC has agreed a general election strategy, further information will be published in due course including information for members planning to lobby candidates in their constituencies, briefing materials related to our national campaigning objectives and how to apply to attend one of our PCS political schools.