With the general election gathering pace and the polls being watched carefully by some, workplace talk might turn to who should win, whose policies are best or who would be a disaster at running the country. Tempers can rise and fallouts can occur so one question that employers often ask is whether an employee's political views are "protected" for the purposes of employment law.
The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from being discriminated against because of their religion or belief. However, the legislation is really aimed at protecting an employee’s philosophical beliefs (rather than their political ones). It is therefore unlikely that support for a particular political party will be covered by this legislation but a strongly held belief in a political doctrine (such as socialism or capitalism) might be.
To be within scope, the belief must be genuinely held, be a belief rather than an opinion or viewpoint, relate to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness and importance and be worthy of respectin a democratic society.
Employers would be wise to bear this potential protection in mind when dealing with any issues relating to them voicing their political views so as to hopefully avoid allegations by employees that they have been treated less favourably or harassed because of their beliefs.
What's happened since the election was announced? It's now three weeks since the election was announced and the official campaign is well under way. After Theresa May's surprise statement, the Conservatives saw their poll rating jump with several polls suggesting a comfortable 20 point lead. Since then, nothing very dramatic has happened. There has been a modest uptick for Labour, who are generally up to the high 20s or around 30 - up from the mid 20s just after the announcement. But that still leaves a very large gap between the main two parties. UKIP seem to have slipped a little further down and perhaps the Lib Dems have also fallen back a bit, although these trends are not clear.