Politically restricted posts

The council has to maintain details of those posts which are ‘politically restricted’. Employees in politically restricted posts are prevented in having any active political role either in or outside of work.

Politically restricted posts fall into two broad categories: 'specified posts' and 'sensitive posts'.

Specified posts

  • the Head of the Paid Service (HoPS) (s4 LGHA)
  • the statutory chief officers, (including the director of children's services and director of adult social services in England, and the chief education officer and director of social services in Wales, the director of public health, the chief officer of a fire brigade, the chief finance officer (s.151 LGA 1972)
  • non-statutory chief officers (officers reporting to the HoPS excluding secretarial/clerical support staff)
  • deputy chief officers (officers reporting to a Chief Officer excluding secretarial/clerical support staff)
  • the monitoring officer (s 5 LGHA)
  • officers exercising delegated powers, i.e. persons whose posts are for the time being specified by the authority in a list maintained in accordance with s 100G(2) of the LGA 1972
  • assistants to political groups

All these post holders are politically restricted without rights of appeal for exemption to the local authority's standards committee (in England) or to the Independent Adjudicator to Local Authorities in Wales.

Sensitive posts

A sensitive post is one which meets one or both of the following duties-related criteria:

  • giving advice on a regular basis to the authority itself, to any committee or sub-committee of the authority or to any joint committee on which the authority are represented; or where the authority are operating executive arrangements, to the executive of the authority; to any committee of that executive; or to any member of that executive who is also a member of the authority
  • speaking on behalf of the authority on a regular basis to journalists or broadcasters

These post holders can appeal to the local standards committee (in England) or the Independent Adjudicator to Local Authorities in Wales to be exempted from the list, on the grounds that the authority has wrongly applied the criteria.

If I am in a politically restricted post what does that mean?

The effect of including a local authority employee on the list of 'politically restricted posts' is to prevent that individual from having any active political role either in or outside the workplace.

Politically restricted employees will automatically be disqualified from standing for or holding elected office, and these restrictions are incorporated as terms in the employee's contract of employment under s3 LGO(PR)R 1990. It is left to the discretion of each authority whether or not to reinstate an employee who resigns his post, and then consequently fights and loses an election.

In practice, this equates to debarring a substantial number of local government employees from standing for office as:

  • local councillors
  • MPs
  • MEPs
  • Members of the Welsh Assembly
  • Members of the Scottish Parliament.

They are also restricted from:

  • canvassing on behalf of a political party or a person who is or seeks to be a candidate (Reg 3, Sched Part I, para 5 LGO(PR)R 1990)
  • speaking to the public at large or publishing any written or artistic work that could give the impression that they are advocating support for a political party (Reg 3, Sched Pt II, LGO(PR)R 1990).

The cumulative effect of these restrictions is to limit the holders of 'PRPs' to bare membership of political parties, with no active participation within the party permitted.

All local authority employees, including craft and manual workers, fall within the scope of the Act including part-time posts.

How do I know if I am applying for a politically restricted post?

This is a condition of appointment and the job advertisement will indicate if the post is politically restricted.

If there is a change to your role or a review of politically restricted posts, the council will write to you and formally advise you if your post is deemed to be politically restricted and advise you of the guidelines around that.