Can my employer prevent me from standing for election to a local council?

The law entitles employees to reasonable time off work to undertake public duties and roles, which include, amongst others:

  • magistrates;
  • membership of a local authority;
  • membership of a statutory tribunal;
  • membership of a health authority; and
  • membership of an education body.

There is no obligation on the employer to pay for this time off.

The above list does not include standing for election to a local council. You are not eligible for statutory time off for this. However, with the exception of certain senior positions in public service, your employer cannot prevent you from engagement in political activities in your own time.

Also, while your employer is very unlikely to permit you to campaign at work or to spend work time engaged on political tasks linked to your election bid, your employer should not treat you less favourably than it would treat others on the basis of your political beliefs.

This does not mean your employer has to put up with you manifesting political beliefs at work that your co-workers reasonably regard as offensive, such as if you stood for election as a candidate for a far right political organisation.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.