514 Application for Employment

The foundation of the suitability screening process is Form 2591, Application for Employment. Human resources personnel or a certified interviewer must check each application for legibility and completeness. The reviewer must note contradictions, omissions, false statements, and unaccounted periods of time.

514.1 Evaluating Employment History

An applicant’s past job performance is one of the best indicators of ability. Therefore, attention must be given to the applicant’s employment record. An applicant must provide evidence of work experience beginning with the current position and going back 10 years, or back to the applicant’s 16th birthday, whichever is more recent.

An applicant’s work experience offers valuable insight into job performance, work habits, and stability. A stable, continuous employment history generally indicates an applicant who will be a satisfactory and productive employee.

Human resources personnel or interviewer pays close attention to an applicant’s reasons given for leaving a job, for being fired from a job, or for quitting in lieu of being fired.

Note: Job changes may be related to attempts to improve employment. Long periods of unemployment or frequent short periods of employment may call for further explanation or inquiry.

514.11 Handling Removals From Postal Service or Other Federal Employment

It is Postal Service policy to refuse employment — career or noncareer, competitive or noncompetitive — to persons who were removed, outside the probationary period, from the Postal Service or from other federal employment for cause, or who resigned after being notified that charges proposing removal would be, or had been, issued. See ELM 365.31, Removal, for definition of a removal. In exceptional cases where the Postal Service contemplates appointing such an individual, the district Human Resources manager must give prior approval. If the individual is subsequently appointed, his or her official personnel folder must include documentation of the approval. Approval is not required if the former employee was separated for scheme or other qualification failure, and if the job for which the applicant applies does not require similar abilities.

514.12 Consideration of Other Unsatisfactory Service

An applicant may be rejected for employment because of previous unsatisfactory service in the private sector, the Postal Service, or another agency, including debarment by the Office of Personnel Management. See 514.13, Debarment, for explanation of debarment. The unsatisfactory service must have been long enough to be considered a full and fair trial, and the character of the service must indicate that the applicant would be unlikely to perform satisfactorily in the new position. Situations that may warrant concern include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Unsatisfactory service during a probationary period, or a temporary appointment, in the same or another installation, resulting in a termination.
  2. Past failures to satisfy a qualification requirement (e.g., scheme qualification) when a similar ability will be required for the new position.
  3. Misconduct on a job.
  4. Unstable work record.
  5. Excessive tardiness or absence, or poor conduct in previous postal employment, even though no disciplinary action was taken prior to the resignation, could justify rejecting an eligible from consideration if the service was recent and there is no indication that the applicant has improved his or her work habits.
514.13 Debarment

When the OPM finds a person unsuitable for a reason named in Exhibit 522, Suitability Factors — Partial List of Reasons for Disqualification, OPM, in its discretion, may deny that person examination for and appointment to a competitive position for a period of not more than 3 years from the date of determination of unsuitability. This 3–year period is known as debarment.

On expiration of debarment, a person who has been debarred may not be appointed to any position in the competitive service (including the Postal Service) until OPM has redetermined that person’s suitability for appointment.

514.2 Assessing Military Service History

Military service claimed on the applicant’s Form 2591 must be compared to the information contained on DD Form 214, and any discrepancies resolved. If the character of service on DD Form 214 reflects a discharge that is other than honorable, including clemency or general discharge, ascertain the reasons by taking the following steps:

  1. Obtain a statement from the applicant as to why the discharge was other than honorable.
  2. Contact military authorities to determine the reason why the discharge was not honorable. Use the name and mailing address in station where separated on the DD Form 214 to request information and write the appropriate branch of the military from the listing in ELM Exhibit 512.232b (p. 2). Make sure that a copy of Form 2181–A accompanies every request.

Note: If the Application for Employment or the applicant’s discharge or other military separation papers indicate conviction of a military offense, contact the appropriate military authority to determine whether the offense would make the applicant unsuitable for postal employment.

514.3 Assessing Criminal Conviction History

514.31 Policy

In fairness to applicants and in consideration of the Postal Service’s obligations to the public and the workforce, the Postal Service must individually evaluate the employability of each applicant with a criminal conviction or pending criminal charge. The Postal Service recognizes that many persons with criminal records have demonstrated successful rehabilitation and are capable of performing the duties of postal jobs. These applicants are entitled to compete for jobs on individual merits. It is Postal Service policy to do a local criminal records check during the suitability screening process. These policies apply to postal entrance positions but not to those designated as sensitive.

514.32 Restrictions on Inquiries

No inquiries may be made, either orally or in writing, of the applicant or of any other person, concerning arrest records, except where the arrest resulted in a criminal conviction, or where the charges are still pending. When inquiring into the conviction record of an applicant from any person or agency, including law enforcement agencies, postal officials must state orally, or in writing, that:

It is not the policy of the U.S. Postal Service to inquire into the arrest records of applicants for employment, where the charges arising out of an arrest have been dismissed, there has been an acquittal, the proceedings have otherwise not resulted in a conviction, or where the record of such charges does not contain or reflect an actual criminal conviction of such charges. If possible, please exclude all such charges in the requested conviction record, except those still pending.

514.33 Obtaining Criminal Records Checks

The appropriate Postal Service official must obtain a criminal records check in each county where the applicant resided for the past 5 years. If fees are charged for furnishing copies of records, use Account Number 52519, Postal Operations–Fees for Services, to pay the fees. The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) and Special Agency Check (SAC) performed by OPM for individuals who are selected involves additional criminal records checks (see 56, New Hire Investigations).

514.331 Situations When Applicant Must Provide Criminal Records

Some law enforcement agencies provide criminal records to employers only after the individuals have been appointed. In states where Postal Service access to local police records for preemployment purposes is not provided, the applicant is required to obtain and provide the records for employment review and pay any fees charged.

514.332 Use of Sample Letter of Inquiry

A sample letter for requesting police records and notes pertaining to preparation are found in Appendix A–1.

514.34 Verifying Criminal Record Information

The appropriate postal official must compare the results of a local criminal records check (e.g., city, town, or county), along with employment and criminal history reflected on Form 2591, and inquire into any convictions or pending charges. Special care must be taken to ensure the accuracy of criminal record information received from law enforcement authorities or other agencies. If discrepancies exist, a letter of inquiry must be sent to the applicant (see 52, Determining Eligibility and Suitability). Appendix A–2 contains the appropriate statement to accompany a letter of inquiry regarding an applicant’s criminal record.

If records are received that do not adequately reflect the disposition of a criminal charge or that indicate the charge is pending, the applicant is given an opportunity to explain the surrounding circumstances of the charges and whether the charges have been resolved in the applicant’s favor.

514.35 Using Arrest Records

It is policy that the Postal Service may consider only those records in which an arrest resulted in a criminal conviction or in which charges are pending at the time of the inquiry. Postal Service policy prohibits consideration of arrest records of applicants in the following situations:

  1. Arrest charges were dismissed.
  2. An acquittal occurred.
  3. Proceedings did not otherwise result in a conviction.
  4. Charges do not contain or reflect a criminal conviction.

In instances where a criminal conviction is set aside, vacated, or annulled, expunged, or sealed pursuant to state or court order, the conviction may not serve as a basis for the disqualification of the applicant. Further, no inquiry may be made, either oral or written, directly or indirectly, into that conviction.

Young persons arrested on criminal charges may be subject to adjudications in juvenile courts under juvenile offender statutes, which in many jurisdictions are not considered to be criminal convictions. When evaluating an applicant for employment, do not consider these adjudications.

Note: Pending criminal charges must not result in the automatic rejection of an applicant (see 514.38b).

514.36 Evaluating Conviction Records

In evaluating an applicant’s conviction record, appointing officials may consider only the nature of the offense of which the applicant has actually been convicted, and not the nature of the offense with which the applicant may have been charged prior to conviction.

514.37 Evaluating Employability of Applicants With Criminal Convictions

It is Postal Service policy to evaluate the employability of each applicant with a criminal conviction record individually. The fact that an applicant has a criminal conviction record is not sufficient to disqualify that applicant from postal employment. Instead, an applicant should be rejected on the basis of a history of criminal conviction only after a specific finding that the history is directly related to the applicant’s present capacity to perform as a Postal Service employee. To the extent available, such factors as the following must be considered during such an evaluation:

  1. Applicant’s age at the time of each offense.
  2. Nature and underlying circumstances of the offense.
  3. Length of time elapsed since the applicant’s offense.
  4. Evidence of efforts toward rehabilitation, including job training or educational programs the applicant may have participated in during incarceration.
  5. Information supplied by penal authorities, parole and probation officers, social workers, or social agencies regarding the applicant’s progress toward rehabilitation or employability.
  6. Applicant’s employment record, including participation in a job training program.
  7. Dispensations that may have been granted by the authorities to evidence the applicant’s rehabilitation such as certificates of relief from disabilities, certificates of good conduct, and certificates restoring civil rights.
  8. Nature and location of the position sought by the applicant.
514.38 Additional Considerations

The following are additional considerations in assessing criminal conviction history:

  1. Probation or parole. An applicant subject to probation or parole supervision as a result of criminal conviction may not be rejected for employment solely on the basis of such supervision. Such applicants are entitled to individual evaluation under 514.37, Evaluating Employability of Applicants With Criminal Convictions.
  2. Pending charges. Appointing officials may inquire into criminal charges pending against any applicant at the time the application is considered. An applicant subject to pending criminal charges is eligible for employment. However, if conviction on the charges would make the applicant unsuitable under 514.37, Evaluating Employability of Applicants With Criminal Convictions, the applicant is not available until he or she presents evidence that the charge was resolved in his
    or her favor.
  3. Time since conviction. An applicant’s conviction record may not serve as the sole basis for disqualification if the applicant has neither received a criminal conviction during 10 years immediately preceding the application date, nor been incarcerated because of a criminal conviction during 5 years immediately preceding the application date.
514.39 Post–Hire Policy

Employees who had criminal records at the time of their appointment to the Postal Service may not be discharged or denied transfer, assignment, or promotion to any postal positions — except those designated sensitive — as a result of such records. This does not preclude disciplinary action, including removal, against an employee for falsification of any employment application form.