There’s no doubting that political debate may often lead to undesirable arguments, damaged relationships and, worse still, a tarnished business reputation. With an interminably heated political climate both in Malta and abroad, let’s have a look at what you can do to avoid having a messy politically induced saga on your hands.
Can you implement a blanket ban on political discussion at work? Debatable. It’s rather impossible to ban employees from talking about anything these days.
However, employers can cast a wide net by forbidding political discussion or ‘activity’ which impacts any part of one’s employment; this can subsequently be construed rather widely to include inter-employee relationships. One may also simultaneously include a clear ban on campaigning on the workplace, the forbiddance of which is obviously reasonable.
Politically motivated offence may even come in the form of harassment or the displaying of political symbols in one way or another. Banning such behaviour is crucial in order to avoid having to deal with distressing disciplinary issues.
Legitimate businesses often choose to refrain from political endorsement, and while this not only protects employees, it also protects the business vis-á-vis its clientele. Having employees bring up or joining in political discussion with clients may be irreversibly harmful to your business and may also throw it way off the political-neutrality spectrum.
What is of vital importance is that you must strictly apply any such policy equally across the board. Discrimination based on political opinion is a protected characteristic under Maltese employment law. This doesn’t mean that banning political talk is illegal, but that the ban must apply to any such talk, and not on specific political discussion regarding one specific party or political agenda, for example.
If you want to ensure that your business is safeguarded from politically induced chaos, make sure that you draw up a policy regarding politics at the workplace. Contact us at 21 Law for more details on how we can help!