DHB staff and the 2016 elections
All New Zealanders have the democratic right to participate in the District Health Board (DHB) elections. Working for a DHB doesn’t affect that right.
You can take part in DHB elections
Under the Bill of Rights Act, you have the same rights as any other New Zealander. You can stand as a candidate or campaign in support of another candidate or party. The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 is clear that employees may stand for election to the DHB. But as a DHB employee there are a few things you need to consider.
DHB employees are state servants and subject to the State Services Commissioner’s Standards of Integrity and Conduct.
Some DHBs have their own policies on conduct, and members working at those DHBs must be familiar with what they say. The PSA expects these policies to be fully consistent with the law and SSC Standards of Integrity and Conduct. If a DHB policy on conduct is stricter than the law or SSC standards, you are not required to abide by it. If you have any doubts, please contact your PSA organiser.
You can campaign in DHB elections in a range of ways
You have the right to actively support a candidate or political party in the elections in your personal capacity, in your own time, using your own resources. This means you can help with fundraising, leaflet drops and any other kind of support.
Remember to keep politics out of your job, and your job out of politics. For example:
Do: feel free to express your political views through social media, but only in a private capacity and in your own time. In your social media profile, you might choose to make it clear that these are your views as a private individual and take care not to mention where you work.
Do: attend public meetings or rallies in your own time (e.g. lunch breaks).
Do: help with fund raising activities for a candidate or assist with leaflet drops in the community in your own time.
Don’t: use work printers to make campaign leaflets or posters, and don’t use work computers to receive or send political information, even from your personal e-mail account.
Don’t: hold any meetings on your work premises.
Don’t: use or disclose information from your work unless it’s publicly available already (a good test might be whether you can find it on your organisation’s internet site)
Don’t: wear anything that identifies your employer at a public meeting or rally, or if you’re delivering leaflets in the community.
Think about the level of personal participation in political activity which is appropriate for you. This is particularly important if you are a senior employee or work closely with the decision-making or governance function of the DHB.
Getting involved in the PSA campaign
The PSA will be running a campaign leading up to the DHB elections and will provide campaign resources for workplaces. Feel free to put these up on PSA noticeboards, and circulate to members. Just remember not to display these in areas where the public has access.
You can stand in DHB elections
The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act is clear that employees may stand for election to the DHB.
Do: talk to your manager about your plans to stand and how you will both manage any implications for your work.
Do: read the State Services Commissioner’s Standards of Integrity and Conduct and associated guidance (see links below)
Don’t: campaign on work time or use any work resources. This includes things like not using work printers to make campaign leaflets and not sending out e-mails from a work computer, even if you use your private e-mail account.
Don’t: hold any meetings on work premises.
Don’t: use confidential information you’ve learned at work during your campaign.
What happens if I’m elected?
There is no statutory requirement for a DHB employee to resign from their employment if they are elected to a DHB. There are a number of DHBs where an employee has remained in their job whilst being a board member. Discuss with your manager how you will plan your employment around your new duties as a board member.
If you are elected to a DHB and need further advice, talk to your local PSA organiser or contact the PSA at 0508 367 772.
Need further advice?
Get in touch with the PSA Organising Centre on 0508 367 772 for advice, or talk to your PSA organiser.
Information about the DHB Board elections on the Ministry of Health website, which includes information for candidates: www.health.govt.nz/new-zealand-health-system/key-health-sector-organisations-and-people/district-health-boards/dhb-elections