Chapter 3 Our Workforce
Postal employees enjoy excellent benefits, including annual and sick leave, the opportunity to donate leave, paid basic life insurance with additional options at the employee’s cost, pretax Flexible Spending Accounts for dependent and health care, and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) plans, including company contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for FERS employees. Participation rates and employer costs may be found in the 2007 Annual Report.
During 2007, agreements were achieved through the collective bargaining process and through consultation with the management associations to reduce the Postal Service’s share of the contributions to the cost of health benefits premiums for its employees. Reductions begin in January 2008 for employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union and National Postal Mail Handlers Union and for EAS employees. Reductions begin in January 2009 for employees represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.
Dental and Vision Insurance
The first Federal Employee Dental/Vision Insurance Program open season in the fall of 2006 generated high interest. Approximately 64,000 employees enrolled in the dental program and 50,000 in the vision program. Employees pay 100 percent of premiums with pretax dollars.
Full-time career employees within three years of retirement eligibility may now request National Retirement Counseling Systems annuity estimates online through PostalEASE. A full explanation of estimates is available as part of an online retirement seminar along with other retirement benefits information. A new retirement video on LiteBlue, the postal extranet, explains retirement-related issues including creditable service, annuity calculations, FEHB, FEGLI, deposits, and survivor benefits.
Financial Literacy And Education
During 2007 the Postal Service undertook efforts in financial literacy and education consistent with the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Open Elections Act of 2004. Employees are provided with general information on financial issues on LiteBlue, during new employee orientation, retirement seminars, through the OPM and Social Security Administration, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Web-based resources provide information on debt-free strategies, credit, investing, paying for education, long-term care, along with calculators for retirement, auto and home loans, etc. The Postal Service also gave mandatory financial literacy training at each employee’s worksite.
The Postal Service continues to work closely with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) to place injured employees who cannot be accommodated within the Postal Service into private sector employment. These efforts have resulted in private sector placements, employee retirements, or reductions in compensation payments for 220 former employees. Since the inception of the Vocational Rehabilitation Process in 2003, compensation costs have been reduced by more than $20.7 million annually.
For 2007, the Postal Service saw an increase of 4 percent in workers’ compensation chargeback expenses from the Department of Labor, OWCP despite continued decreases in illness, injuries, and accidents. The cash payout totaled $972.7 million.
In continuing efforts to reduce workers’ compensation medical costs, the Postal Service implemented two new initiatives: the Pharmacy Card Program and Duplicate Medical Bill Review. The Pharmacy Card Program results in discounted prescription prices for the Postal Service and avoids employees paying out-of-pocket expenses and waiting for reimbursements. A savings of $3 million was achieved. A projected savings of $5–$8 million is expected in 2008. Working in collaboration with OWCP, the Duplicate Medical Bill Review project was initially launched in 2005 to identify and recover medical overpayments made to providers. Since the start of the program, medical overpayments in the amount of $5.2 million have been identified and eliminated. Monetary gain from pursuit of third-party claims and overpayments are credited to the Postal Service by OWCP. Ongoing efforts with the Credit Recovery program attained $37.1 million.
The National Reassessment Process is a key initiative that reviews the status of those 33,777 employees in rehabilitation and limitedduty assignments at the end of each year. The process ensures that every evaluated employee is placed in an appropriate and necessary work position. NRP was successful in three pilot sites — New York Metro, San Diego, and Western New York, with an additional 29 sites now implementing this initiative. The number of employees in rehabilitation and limited duty assignments was reduced to 31,416 at the end of 2007.