Frequently Asked Questions
(Click on a question or scroll down to see the answers.)
If your office has less than 100 bargaining-unit employees, the postmaster may perform bargaining unit work only if it is listed in their position description. Typically, the position description for postmasters in Level 20-and-below post offices states they “may personally handle window transactions and perform distribution tasks as the workload requires.” (Different rules apply to larger offices.)
No. At least two national-level arbitrators have ruled that postmasters and supervisors may perform only the amount of work that historically has been performed by supervisors in an office. If the amount increases, or the number of clerk hours decreases, you should contact your union steward.
The M-39 Handbook contains language indicating that clerks should be scheduled to perform these functions. It says the supervisor’s responsibilities are to:
“Review mail undeliverable as addressed (UAA) to identify errors and maximize efficient handling procedures at delivery units and at Computerized Forwarding System (CFS) units.” [Emphasis added.] The regular and routine disposal of undeliverable bulk mail should be performed by clerks.
This is not considered a “distribution task” and should not be performed by postmasters or supervisors. Postmasters also should not be doing Webbats (P.O. Box record-keeping on the web), bulk mail acceptance, or other ancillary duties. Contact your union steward if you have questions about this.
By definition, a PMR “is a non-career hourly-rate employee who performs as a relief or leave replacement during the absence of the postmaster in an EAS 16 or below Post Office.” PMRs should not be working in an office unless the postmaster is absent. If a PMR is working in an office at the same time as the postmaster, contact your union steward. PMRs should not be hired in offices with career bargaining unit employees, in accordance with ASM Part 123.4.
A PMR from another office can perform clerk duties only if he or she has been properly hired as a dual-appointed casual in your office or if he or she is working for the sole purpose of providing coverage for clerks on annual leave in accordance with the pecking order established in the LMOU for Offices Without a Local Union Structure, Item 4.g.3. If you have a question regarding whether a PMR has been properly hired or dually appointed, contact your union steward.
It depends upon the history of the postmaster working in the particular office. If you have a question about the historical practices in your office, contact your union steward.
The union must be able to demonstrate that the PTF hours (including leave hours) are being utilized in a way that could support a full-time duty assignment. The hours do not have to be from a single PTF; a combination of PTF hours may be used to establish the need for a full-time job. Article 7.3.B requires management to maximize full-time employment and minimize part-time employment in all postal installations. If you believe your office has sufficient PTF hours to support a full-time job, contact your union steward.
A vacant duty assignment must be posted within 28 days of the date it became vacant. Changes to the assignment may be made. If the USPS does not have sufficient work to support the full-time duty assignment, management may revert the duty assignment, provided the Postal Service notifies the APWU Regional Coordinator or their designee in writing within 28 days.
Management must notify the local union president when a job is reverted (i.e., when a vacant duty assignment is eliminated). If your office is not a part of a local, management must notify the Regional Coordinator (or his or her designee) in accordance with the Local Memorandum of Understanding (LMOU) for Offices Without a Local Union Structure, Item 12. The same is true if a job is abolished (i.e., when an occupied duty assignment is eliminated). The Regional Coordinator also must be notified if the abolishment will result in excessing outside the installation.
Casuals may not be employed in excess of 360 days. In offices of less than 200 man-years, they may not be hired in lieu of career employees. If a casual is hired in your office, contact your union steward. The union will monitor the employment of casuals to ensure that they are hired and utilized properly.
PTFs working at the straight-time rate must be given priority scheduling over casuals.
Clerks are not typically scheduled to carry mail; however, there are clerk positions (such as Special Delivery Clerk) with duties that include carrying mail. Clerks also may be required to deliver and pickup Express Mail. If you have a question about the history in your office, contact your union steward.
Casuals may not perform accountable duties, such as working the window, accountable mail, registered mail; duties that require postal training with a deferment period; duties that require scheme study with a deferment period; or duties that require a skill that is subject to testing, such as typing. They may perform non-core duties such as boxing mail, spreading mail to carriers, etc.
Section 348.11 of the ELM defines a dual appointment as an employee who is appointed to more than one position. It goes on to state that PMRs and Rural Carrier Reliefs (RCRs) may have dual appointments as casuals, but only under very limited circumstances. Section 348.12 of the ELM states that before such dual appointments are considered, the postmaster should first increase the PTF hours — even if it requires the use of overtime. Postmasters also must consider bringing in PTFs from different offices, if they are available. If a PMR or RCR has a dual appointment or is working as a casual in your office, contact your union steward immediately.
No. Cross-craft assignments are limited to employees in the same wage level. In addition, there must be a corresponding heavy workload in the gaining craft and a light workload in the losing craft. These circumstances rarely occur.
No, because they are assigned to a different wage level.
In small post offices this is typically a function of the Clerk Craft.
No. Before you can be required to repay a shortage in your accountability, you must be given a written Letter of Demand, signed by the Postmaster or his or her designee. The letter must include a statement of your appeal rights and options for repayment. Contact your union steward immediately if you receive a Letter of Demand.
No. It is a clear violation of postal regulations. If it happens, contact your union steward.
It depends on the facts in each individual circumstance. If you have a question regarding this, contact your union steward.
It depends on the facts in each individual circumstance. If you have a question regarding this, contact your union steward.
If you wish to perform light-duty work, you should submit a written request to your postmaster, along with a note from your doctor indicating the type of work you are able to perform. The postmaster must make every effort to accommodate your request. If your request for light duty is denied, contact your union steward.
The Joint Contract Interpretation Manual (JCIM) is an excellent reference. (See Article 10, beginning on page 13.) If you have a question about leave under the FMLA, contact your union steward.
No. The Local Memorandum of Understanding for Offices Without a Local Union Structure requires management to grant leave to a minimum of one clerk during the choice vacation period (April 1 through November 30). In addition, Section 512.61.a of the ELM requires management to grant vacation leave to bargaining unit employees when requested “to the extent practicable,” while postmasters must only be granted leave ‘when their services can best be spared.” (Section 512.62.)
Items 4 through 8 of the LMOU outline the provisions governing annual leave.
The LMOU states that employees must submit their choice vacation selections by February 15, and that the postmaster has until March 1 to post the approved vacation schedule. All other leave requests should be acted upon and returned within a reasonable time frame. If your leave request is not acted upon within two weeks, contact your union steward.
No. If you are sick, your PS Form 3971 serves as a notification of your absence; it is not a request. If management charges you with an AWOL or otherwise refuses to pay you, contact your union steward.
Medical documentation is only required for absences of more than three days. For absences of three days or less, the postmaster may require documentation only if there is a valid reason to doubt that the request is legitimate. If your postmaster requires medical documentation for absences of three days or less, contact your union steward.
All employees are entitled to reasonable rest breaks. If there is no standard practice in your office, a 10-minute rest break after two hours work is generally considered reasonable. If there is not a standard time for rest breaks in your office and you are refused a rest break, contact your union steward.
It depends. The USPS has the right to schedule PTFs from other offices. These clerks should be scheduled if they are available. The OIC can only perform the duties of the postmaster.
In accordance with a July 10, 1991, Maintenance Management Order (MMO-21-91) the pecking order should be: Mechanics, PTF clerks, PTF carriers. This gives first priority for the work to the Maintenance Craft, then the Clerk Craft, and, finally, the Carrier Craft.
In accordance with the Local Memorandum of Understanding for Offices Without a Local Union Structure, the work should go first to other clerks within the office, then to available PTF clerks from surrounding offices, and finally, if no career clerks are available within the commuting area, to PMRs, for the sole purpose of back-filling for bargaining unit annual leave.
No. If a PTF makes a valid request for leave, their non-scheduled workday should not be changed to make them available for another day of straight-time work. If your leave is changed to a non-scheduled day, contact your union steward.
You can be required to use only the number of hours you would have worked if you had not taken leave. (See Section 312.6 of the F-21 Handbook.)
If a dispute arises regarding the number of hours a part-time flexible employee would have been scheduled to work, the schedule is considered to have been equal to the average hours worked by other part-time flexible employees in the same work location on the day in question. [See the ELM at 513.421.b(3).]
No. You have a right to use sick leave for scheduled doctors’ appointments if the appointments are scheduled during your normal work hours.
Unless your doctor indicates that you are incapacitated, you may be required to return to work to finish your scheduled workday.
A PTF in an office with less than 200 man-years is guaranteed two hours work or pay when called in to work, unless there is a “call back.” (See question #41.) If a PTF is instructed to clock out and return to work within two hours, it is considered a split shift and no new guarantee applies. If, before you leave work, you are instructed to return to work after two hours or more, you are entitled to another two-hour guarantee.
The only limit on the number of split shifts a PTF may be required to work is that all work hours – including lunch breaks – must occur within a 12-hour time span. For example, a PTF who reports to work at 4 a.m. would not be available for any work after 4 p.m.
When an employee completes a scheduled tour, clocks out, leaves the premises, and is contacted after he or she has clocked out and instructed to return to work, it is considered a call back, regardless of the interval between shifts. You are guaranteed an additional fours hours of work or pay if you are called back to work.
Yes. Because you were not notified before the end of your previous tour, you have a four-hour guarantee for the morning call-in. You retain your two-hour guarantee for the afternoon, for a total of six hours.
Yes, you have a four-hour guarantee for that call-in.
Yes. If you are notified prior to leaving the post office, your guarantee is two hours. If you are called back, your guarantee is four hours.
Generally, PTF hours should be equitably divided over the course of a pay period or accounting period, except where the distribution of work hours is controlled by past practice. For example, sometimes the junior PTFs are told when they are hired that they are only being employed to perform relief duties for the other clerks (or for lunch relief or to cover vacation periods). In such cases these PTFs could properly be scheduled for fewer hours than the other PTFs. If you have a question about this, contact your union steward.” (updated 08/04/23)
Full-time regulars are guaranteed a minimum of eight hours work or pay any time they report to work. If you are sent home after working less than eight hours, the Postal Service must pay you for eight hours nonetheless.
Yes, if there are full-time employees in the office. Only full-time regulars may sign the overtime desired list.
Yes. There is no correlation between FTR and PTF overtime.
Yes. There is no correlation between PTF and FTR overtime.
Yes. Hub Clerk is the name given to part-time flexible clerks who are assigned to offices other than their own.
Hub Clerks should not be scheduled to work to the detriment of PTFs who were hired in or permanently reassigned to the gaining office. PTFs in the gaining office should be utilized at the straight-time rate before work is given to Hub Clerks.
Hub Clerks can work overtime only if the overtime has been first offered to full-time clerks on the overtime desired list in the gaining office.
Hub Clerks can be required to work in offices other than their home office. (The Hub Clerk Memorandum between the APWU and the USPS applies only to part-time flexibles.)
Yes. You are required to be compensated for travel time and/or mileage in accordance with Section 438 of the ELM and Chapter 7 of Handbook F-15.
Typically, a clerk should be placed on higher-level pay in the absence of the postmaster.
Level 7. Contact your union steward if you have a question.
Section 233 of the ELM requires that full-time employees who perform higher level duties every day, regardless of the amount of time, should be ranked at the higher level. If you have a question about this, contact your union steward.
A Function Four audit is a management tool to review the operation and staffing of the office. The results could affect clerk hours and work. Contact your union steward if there is a Function Four review in your office.
Contact your union steward. It could be that no one should be excessed. If excessing is necessary, the employees to be excessed are identified by juniority from among the employees occupying the same craft, level, and status (full-time regular or part-time regular).
Casual hours must be eliminated to the extent possible and PTF hours must be reduced.
Continue to work the window in a professional manner and do not cut corners, especially when it comes to financial transactions. Contact your union steward.
Hiring is generally a management decision, but you should contact your union steward. The union will investigate whether management is violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to avoid hiring.
No. Working off the clock is strictly forbidden by postal regulations and you could be disciplined for doing so. The postmaster also could be disciplined if employees work while off the clock with the postmaster’s knowledge or tacit approval.
You have to decide whether you want to permit management to continue to violate the contract or whether you want to stand up for your rights. If you decide to take a stand, the full force of the APWU will be with you.
Visit the Members-at-Large officers page on the APWU Web site, at www.apwu.org/mal/officers-mal.htm. You also can ask your co-workers or employees working in nearby post offices about who to call.
Make your initial contact when you are off the clock. The union steward should be able to correct your problem.
There are numerous reasons why you should join the APWU, but the main reason is to support the ONLY organization that can and does represent you both in the post office and in Congress. Click here to learn more about the many benefits that APWU membership has to offer.
Contact your union steward and fill out a Form 1187, or visit www.apwu.org/join/howto.htm.
It depends on the area. Contact your union steward for advice.