Political Activities of EHRA Employees (except Senior Administrators): Candidacy and Office-holding Part-Time Political Offices (Other than General Assembly Memberships)
Directions of the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for Implementing the Board of Governors’ Policy on Political Activities of Employees
These directives apply to all faculty and EHRA Non-Faculty employees (hereinafter, collectively referred to as employees), other than senior administrative officers.
II. Advance Notice Of Policy Requirements
The Chancellor shall be responsible for notifying all employees well in advance of both the procedures to be followed in pursuing, as well as the possible employment implications of, their involvement in political candidacy and office-holding, pursuant to the Board of Governors’ Policy. Such measures shall include: (1) publication of a notice in documents that prescribe the terms and conditions of employment for the affected categories of covered University employment, e.g., handbooks and policy manuals if any; (2) distribution with paychecks, in advance of each pending political season, of reminders of Policy requirements to which employees are subject.
III. Consequences Of Failure To Comply With Required Procedures
The Board of Governors’ Policy states that any employee who becomes a candidate for election to a part-time office for which compensation is more than nominal presumably will engage in campaign activity that interferes with the satisfactory performance of his or her full-time employment responsibilities to the University. In the face of that presumption, the affected employee is accorded the options of (1) resigning in order to pursue political activity, or (2) seeking to demonstrate that, contrary to the presumption, he or she can and will structure campaign activities so as to assure that they do not conflict with University employment, or (3) seeking an appropriate leave of absence to enable the employee to pursue political activity.
The Board of Governors’ Policy is designed to accomplish a timely resolution of questions about an employee’s proposed involvement in activities that could conflict with University employment responsibilities. The purpose is to avoid, through advance planning, any situation in which an employee might neglect his or her duty and thereby disrupt service to students and other beneficiaries of the University enterprise, with consequent need for disciplinary action against the employee. The system established by the Board of Governors permits both the employee and the employer to identify potential problems in advance and to craft reasonable accommodations. Thus, it is essential that the procedures called for in the Policy be observed carefully.
An employee who fails or refuses to observe the procedural requirements of the Policy has violated the terms and conditions of his or her employment and is subject to disciplinary action. With the establishment of appropriate measures for providing notice of the Policy requirements, all covered employees will be presumed to know their obligations under the Policy.
A. With Respect to Office-holding
If a University employee is elected or appointed to a full-time public office, his or her employment ends automatically (“will be deemed to have resigned”) upon the assumption of that office. The automatic termination of employment may be avoided only if the employee, prior to assuming the office, has sought and obtained permission for a leave of absence, not to exceed two years in duration. Since the relevant provisions of the Policy are self-executing, there is no occasion for disciplinary action in such a case.
If a University employee is elected or appointed to a part-time office for which compensation is more than nominal, holding the office is presumed to conflict with the satisfactory performance of University employment obligations, and the employee is obligated to resign upon assuming that public office. The required resignation may be avoided only if the employee, prior to assuming the office, follows prescribed procedures that result either in a finding that in fact there will be no conflict created by simultaneous office-holding and University employment or, alternatively, in the approval of a requested leave of absence. If an employee fails to follow the prescribed procedure or declines to resign after failing to rebut the presumed conflict or after being denied a leave of absence, disciplinary action may be brought against him or her for violation of the terms and conditions of his or her employment.
B. With Respect to Candidacy
Under the terms of the Board of Governors’ Policy, if a candidacy for election to public office entails a presumed conflict with University employment, the affected employee is required to resign when he or she becomes a candidate. Resignation from employment may be avoided only if the employee, prior to becoming a candidate, follows prescribed procedures that result either in a finding that in fact there will be no conflict or, alternatively, in the approval of a requested leave of absence. If an employee fails to follow the prescribed procedure or declines to resign after being denied a leave of absence, disciplinary action may be brought against him or her for violation of the terms and conditions of his or her employment.