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I am member of a political party, and I will be a candidate for a community-level political office which will be elected this year. Should I tell my employer?

Some background information:

  • The fact that I am a member of a political party is an open secret at work. My direct superior knows, my coworkers know, but I never told the upper management up-front.
  • The chances of me actually getting elected are almost zero. I am just doing it because the election procedure favors parties which have more candidates, so I help my party just by being one (it's complicated).
  • In the unlikely event that I would get elected, my political duties would neither be so time-consuming that I would have to quit my job, nor would it pay well enough that I could.
  • As a candidate, I will of course be campaigning. This will take a lot of my free-time. I am of course not going to do any campaigning while I am on the clock. But I might take a few days off and work on an irregular schedule during the campaign. My employer is used to this: We have very flexible work-hours in general and I would support my party just as much when I wouldn't be a candidate.
  • Me being a candidate means that me and my political opinion will be a topic of interest for the regional media (at least I hope so). I might get asked what I do for a living and who I am working for.
  • I live, work and run for office in Germany.
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    @JimG. I would rather not want to disclose this to make sure that the question stays applicable to a wider audience. It's not an extremist party. – Philipp Jan 10 '14 at 19:50
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    Have you asked more experienced candidates how this is normally handled in Germany?. In the UK I have heard on MP's getting unpaid leave of absence for the first term - this was a by election (caused by the death of Donald Dewar). – Neuromancer Jan 10 '14 at 22:50
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Well, I have done exactly what you are doing here in the U.S. I ran for a position in my state's lower legislative body 2 years ago.

First, I don't see any reason to tell your employer. If they ask, don't deny it, but it truly is none of their business. If you are a "lineholder" candidate, as you suggest, they will likely never be aware of it.

If you get elected, then it will be appropriate and expected to cast non-votes on any issues that would pertain to the interests of your employer, but those should be few and far between.

[Edit] - After reading your profile, if you work for a government agency, you may be precluded from retaining your job if you are elected to the governing body of that agency. Do your research. [/Edit]

If you get asked by the media who you work for, just tell them that you'd rather focus on your agenda and candidacy. Here in the U.S., most states' campaign finance laws require you to state that information when you file to run for office, and any media questions about it are merely a baiting tactic.

Finally, please be sure you have a separate phone line for dealing with the press. Don't answer it during work hours. In fact, if it's a cell phone, leave it shut off during work.

Don't feel you have to apologize for your candidacy. I worked with a person at a company who was actually the president of my state's upper legislative body at the time (from a different party, even). It is nothing to be worried about.

I don't know Germany's laws, but here in the U.S., a company can take on serious liability problems if they interfere with their employees' political activities, as well as asking for a skewering from the press.

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I'm not aware of a law about it, but your campaign office should be able to cover the legal aspects.

Because you work in civil services (as per your profile) and your work may become the focus of interest (as per your details provided in the question) however, you should tell your employer, just so they can be aware of any fall-out this may bring.

I'm not into politics but I don't feel like anybody but hardliners here would hold it against you if you made your party affiliation public and ran for office. If it's for one if the big ones I think it wouldn't be a big deal anyway, and you said it's none of the outliers, but even for, say, the pirates, I can't imagine there being any repercussions. But again: I'm nowhere near the business that is politics.

And - this is no legal advice, I'm no lawyer - as far as I know they legally can't take justified action because of it.

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Most bosses are smart enough to keep their political affiliations private, but some (if not most) might slowly, subtly (maybe even unconsciously) marginalize an employee who favors an opposing political party/cause.


Better stated:

  • You're not doing yourself any favors if you reveal the fact that you're running for political office.

'U.S. News & World Report' agrees, and reminds us why you shouldn't tell others that you feel strongly about or are campaigning for a political cause:

  1. It creates bias. You might start to make assumptions and harbor resentment for co-workers if you know too much about their political leanings, and this could lead to a less-than-harmonious working relationship. "People who previously worked very well together may all of a sudden feel quite differently about their teammates," Carvin says.

  2. It makes workers feel isolated or bullied. Being the only Republican in a cubicle farm of Democrats (or vice versa) needn't be awkward, as long as you steer clear of the "p" word. Too much partisan talk can be a slippery slope, particularly since opinions on some political platforms—like same-sex marriage, for instance—could be indirectly related to a protected class. Voicing a strong opinion one way or another could lead to employees feeling discriminated against.

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