Background

The U.S. Postal Service categorizes unscheduled leave as any absence from work that is not requested or approved in advance. Unscheduled leave could contribute to increased compensation expenses by requiring management to increase workhours and overtime hours.

The OIG developed a Human Resource Risk Model (risk model) to monitor key Postal Service metrics, including unscheduled leave that could potentially affect productivity, efficiency, costs, and employee morale. For all four quarters of fiscal year (FY) 2016, the risk model identified the New York District in the Northeast Area as having the highest percentage of unscheduled leave in the Postal Service.

Our objective was to assess the management of unscheduled leave in the New York District and identify opportunities to reduce unscheduled leave and its associated costs. This is one in a series of audits in districts with high unscheduled leave activity.

What the OIG Found

The New York District did not adequately manage excessive unscheduled leave, which could be potentially mitigated to acceptable levels by appropriately completing required forms, enforcing disciplinary actions, and providing sufficient supervisory training.

We determined employees with a combined 132 or more occurrences of unscheduled leave during FYs 2015 and 2016 to be excessive. In FY 2016, 578 of the district’s 8,417 employees (or 7 percent) had a combined 132 or more occurrences of unscheduled leave, which was 44 percent of total unscheduled leave hours (538,680 of 1,229,479).

The top three unscheduled leave types recorded for the 578 employees were absent without leave, sick leave, and full day leave without pay. These leave types represented 86 percent (464,008 of 538,680) of their unscheduled leave hours taken.

This occurred because Postal Service supervisors did not properly complete, approve, and maintain Postal Service Forms 3971, Request for or Notification of Absence, which they were required to complete when employees returned to work; they did not take appropriate disciplinary action against employees with excessive leave; and they did not receive sufficient training on the unscheduled leave systems/processes or the disciplinary process.

In addition, the current district manager oversight process to monitor unscheduled leave activity is not comprehensive enough to promote adherence to policy, adequate monitoring, and accountability.

In FY 2016, Quarter four, per our risk model, 6 percent of the average number of employees in the Northeast Area had 20 or more unscheduled leave occurrences, whereas 19 percent of the New York District’s average number of employees had 20 or more occurrences. By reducing the 578 employees with excessive unscheduled leave in New York District to the Northeast Area ratio, the New York District would have reduced their excessive unscheduled leave hours by 68 percent (or 214,579 hours). These hours cost the Postal Service about $3.9 million in labor and overtime during FY 2016.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management issue guidance and reiterate policy on using the Enterprise Resource Management System to manage and document unscheduled leave and to initiate disciplinary actions when appropriate; require managers and supervisors to attend training; and enhance the current district review process to include monitoring protocols to promote supervisor accountability.

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Comments (6)

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  • anon

    Supervisors didn't do their job properly by completing, approving, and maintaining official forms and records? Were any of them disciplined or removed? The big problem with the Post Office is they can't get anyone to manage so they let anyone try it. This is the only multi-billion dollar corporation that would put someone with a GED in charge of a unit. After 28 years I still see lazy carriers and clerks decide they would rather walk around, count a few feet of mail, bark a few orders, and then think they did a good job. Just once before I retire I would like to see some supervisors get fired for being incompetent but that will never happen.

    Jun 29, 2017
  • anon

    I may have missed it in my skimming of the pdf file but I didn't see any mention of the "atmosphere" at the stations with excessive sick leave. To the point, if you give me mgmt that will work with me I will definitely work with them.

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

    The third party (lost &Stolen) took the Mail in the A.U.B where it was delivered; between the mail it was present the green card ; i wonder in the way that i could it be back to me ... thank you

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

    Hmm? 158,780 of the absent incidents were chalked up to leave without pay... This is almost 30% of the time...Did you not see a red flag there? Seeing as how this is a report about New York, A New Yorker would ask---Ya think these people would take off without pay for no good reason? Yeah Right. There's more to this than ya looked at. Too bad ya didn't talk to the people who took off, then, maybe, you'd have the better part of the story.

    Jun 28, 2017
  • anon

    People get sick- it's inevitable. I was out sick 3 days recently. I was called by my supervisor and harassed each of those days. They get pressure from their managers and it all runs down hill. All that added stress and aggravation doesn't help me in getting better. Being left alone, and not called at 6:30AM each morning and catching an earful- is what helps employees get better. How about something that encourages employees to be healthy, and when they're sick- leave us the heck alone, and trust us- I had a medical condition and had to apply(and was approved) for FMLA- just to avoid discipline. That points to management not trusting its employees. I don't steal thousands of dollars in Amazon parcels that I deliver every day, but you can't trust me with a few days of (EARNED) sick leave? How disrespectful can you be? I can't afford to miss work- my route gets screwed up by the sub, customers get mad, and I have to spend days when I get back cleaning up the mess.

    Jun 27, 2017
  • anon

    What was the percentage of the "excessive unscheduled leave" incorrectly attributed to FMLA protected leave?

    Jun 27, 2017