It is the intention that civil servants should be allowed the greatest possible freedom to participate in public affairs subject to the following regulations, which do not intend to infringe on this fundamental principle. These regulations (Regulations A5 to A5.9) are concerned with political activities liable to give public expression to political views, rather than privately held beliefs and opinions.
A5.1 – Code of conduct
The following code of conduct in respect of political activities applies to all civil servants:
- Civil servants are required to discharge loyally the duties assigned to them and must not allow their personal views to cut across the discharge of their official duties.
- Civil servants are required to observe the rules concerning the use of official information or experience and are barred from any form of political activity while on duty, in uniform or on official premises.
- Civil servants must not participate in their official capacity at outside conferences or functions convened by or under the aegis of a political organisation.
- Civil servants must not allow expression of their political views to constitute so strong and so comprehensive a commitment to one political party, individual politician or group of politicians, as to inhibit loyal and effective service to their Minister or department. They must take particular care to express comment with moderation, particularly about matters for which their own Ministers etc are responsible; to avoid comment altogether about matters of controversy affecting the responsibility of their own Ministers etc; and to avoid personal attacks.
- Civil servants must take every care to avoid any embarrassment to Ministers or to their department which could result, inadvertently or not, in bringing themselves to the public notice as civil servants involved in a political controversy.
- fCivil servants must retain at all times a proper reticence in matters of political controversy so that their impartiality is beyond question.
A5.2 – Adhering to the code of conduct
a) A civil servant who holds an office (e.g. Secretary, Chairman, Treasurer, Press Secretary etc) of a group or club or society should resign from such office if the organisation objects to government policy and:
- the civil servant is on the staff of the department responsible for that policy; or
- the organisation decides to take some form of inappropriate direct action in support of its views (vandalism/civil disobedience); or
- the organisation pursues its objective by making personal attacks on those responsible for setting or implementing the policy.
A civil servant may retain his office in an organisation commenting on government policy providing that the organisation's views are put forward in a reasonable and responsible manner; and that the organisation does not become involved in commenting on national political issues on a regular basis.
b) A civil servant must not accept appointment to an office (e.g. Secretary, Chairman, Press Secretary etc) which might involve the civil servant in publicly representing an organisation (e.g. an environmental protection organisation) that regularly comments on Government policy, or seeks to influence government policy by public statements, lobbying etc. A civil servant may be a member of such a group providing he is only involved in non-political activities and is not seen publicly to be a supporter of the organisation's political objectives.
A5.3 – Further information
A civil servant who is uncertain whether his membership of or participation in the events organised by such an organisation is limited by these regulations should seek advice from the Chief Secretary or the Office of Human Resources.
A5.4 – Participation in local and national politics
In general, civil servants:
- are barred from engaging in the activities defined as proscribed national political activities in Regulation A5.5(a) - Proscribed national political activities, but may otherwise participate, as other citizens, in matters of a national political nature, providing that he complies with the Code of Conduct at Regulation A5.1
- may, as other citizens, engage in local political activities, providing that he complies with the Code of Conduct at Regulation A5.1, except that engaging in any of the local political activities requiring authorisation as defined in Regulation A5.5(b) - Local political activities requiring authorisation - shall require the approval of the department concerned and the Chief Secretary (in accordance with the procedures at A5.7 - Applications to participate in politics).
A5.5 – Definition of terms
For the purposes of these regulations the following definitions of the terms Proscribed National Political Activities and Local Political Activities apply:
A) Proscribed National Political Activities
- holding, in a party political or other organisation, an office impinging wholly or mainly on party politics in the national field
- addressing public meetings on matters of national political controversy
- expressing views on matters of national political controversy in any form in any media (for example press, radio, television broadcasts, books, articles, internet)
- canvassing on behalf of a parliamentary candidate or political party
- membership of the Isle of Man Board of Education
B) Local Political Activities Requiring Authorisation
- candidature for, or co-option to, a local authority
- holding, in a party political or other organisation, an office impinging wholly or mainly on party politics in the local field
- speaking in public on matters of local political controversy
- expressing views on such matters in any form in any media (for example press, radio, television broadcasts, books, articles, internet, pamphlets or leaflets)
- canvassing on behalf of candidates for election to local authorities or a local political or other organisation
A5.6 – Standing for election
Where a civil servant wishes to stand for election to the House of Keys or Legislative Council the following rule applies:
Civil servants may seek permission to stand for election without having to resign from the Civil Service before they issue their address to the electors or in any other manner announce publicly, or allow a public announcement to be made, that they are candidates. Permission to stand for election must be sought, in writing, from the civil servant’s Accounting Officer. If permission is not granted but the civil servant wishes to proceed and stand for election, they must resign and there is no automatic right of reinstatement if the candidature is unsuccessful. However, if asked to do so by the civil servant, the Accounting Officer may give an indication before the resignation takes effect of the likely outcome of an application for reinstatement in the event of the candidature proving unsuccessful.
Where a civil servant wishes to stand for election to the Legislative Council, the civil servant will be required to apply for unpaid special leave for the day of the election. The granting of the unpaid special leave will be conditional on the civil servant, if they were to be elected, to their immediate termination of employment (from the date they formally become an MLC) and agreeing to waive their notice if they were to be elected.
Last amended February 2020 – Amendment # 15-090
A5.7 – Applications to participate in politics
All applications for permission to participate in local or national politics under these regulations must be addressed to the Chief Secretary and submitted via the Accounting Officer concerned who will transmit the same with any departmental views and recommendations. They will be considered on their merits and, in every case, the views of the department concerned will be taken into account. Applications will be dealt with expeditiously having regard to any time limits involved. Permission is unlikely to be granted for staff who:
- are closely involved in advising Ministers or Boards or Members with delegated responsibilities and/or
- who speak on behalf of their department and who may appear to outside bodies or the public at large to have influence in the application of Government policy.
Where permission is granted for a civil servant to participate in local or national politics the Code of Conduct at Regulation A5.1 will apply.
A5.8 – Re-instatement
Where a civil servant has resigned to stand for election to the House of Keys or for election to the Legislative Council and hopes to be re-instated if unsuccessful he must:
- not use any information (other than information in the public domain) obtained by virtue of his position as a civil servant in his election campaign
- take particular care to express comment with moderation (particularly in respect of criticism of existing government policies) and avoid personal attacks.
Last updated : 20th November 2007 – Amendment Ref. 07-040
A5.9 – Special leave for elections
There is no entitlement to special leave (paid or unpaid) for the purposes of conducting an election campaign or associated activities.