By the time this blog is posted, the Canadian federal election will be a thing of the past. One of the more interesting moments that happened during the election campaign was the suspension of a Federal employee, Tony Turner, for writing a song about Prime Minister Steven Harper.
Mr. Turner provides his perspective on what happened in an interview with MetroNews.
As with many things that did not go as planned during the recent election campaign, the suspension of Mr. Turner received international media and extensive social media coverage.
The suspension brings forward very interesting questions about the employment boundaries that may or may not exist for employees in the public service. They are employees of the federal government, which is led by the Prime Minister of Canada. There is generally an accepted understanding that employees should not cause harm to or malign the reputation of their employer in the public domain. In the case of Mr. Turner, does this mean that he should not have made his personal political opinions public? On the other hand, were his actions significant enough to merit a suspension from employment?
It is not surprising that the union representing Mr. Turner filed a grievance in this case. As for the outcome, Mr. Turner retired from his work with the public service sector, which means that there will be no formal resolution to this grievance.
While we all know what the outcome to the federal election was, we will never know what the outcome for Mr. Turner through his union, would have been.
- Should public sector employees be subject to disciplinary action for voicing or engaging in personal political activities?
- What advice would you, as the HR Practitioner for the Prime Minister’s office, give to the Prime Minister in this case?
- From the employer’s perspective, what specific factors merited disciplinary action against Mr. Turner?
- Do you think employees in the public service have a ‘higher’ duty of responsibility to their employer? Why or why not?