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January 1998
Vol.1 No. 4 Page 9

Overtime, Sick Leave & Medical Certification

(Ed Note: Keep in mind these question and answers are taken from publications over 10 years ago. While most if not all of them are still applicable today, there might have been some minor changes to these decisions.)

Q. What is the procedure for selecting carriers to work overtime when all carriers on the overtime desired list decline overtime?

A. Article 8.5.D provides: "If the voluntary 'Overtime Desired' list does not provide sufficient qualified people, qualified full-time regular employees not on the list may be required to work overtime on a rotating basis with the first opportunity assigned to the junior employee."

Q. Under what circumstances may a carrier on the overtime desired list be excused from working overtime?

A. Article 8.5.E describes the circumstances under which employees-whether on or off the list- may be excused from working overtime: "Exceptions to [the requirement that overtime be worked] if requested by the employee may be approved by local management in exceptional cases based on equity (e.g., anniversaries, birthdays, illness, deaths)."

Q. May management require medical certification for an absence of three days or less from an employee who is not on restricted sick leave?

A. Yes. Section 513.361 of the E&LR Manual gives supervisors the authority to require medical documentation for absences of three days or less, even when the employee is not on restricted sick leave. Note: While a supervisor has discretionary authority to require certification under such circumstances, this does not mean that the exercise of such authority is unchallengeable. If a supervisor abuses that discretionary authority, a grievance may be filed. In one recent case, an arbitrator found that management had an insufficient reason to require certification of an employee who had used only eight hours of sick leave in a l6 month period prior to the demand for certification, and required that the USPS reimburse the employee for all costs incurred as a result of the demand. In another case, however, an arbitrator found that management had sufficient reason to demand certification of an employee after he became sick after being asked to perform an unpleasant job. Each case must be evaluated according to its own merits.

Q. Is it true that management has the right to impose discipline for failure to meet office standards only if the failure was a result of unsatisfactory effort?

A. Yes. Section 242.332 of the M39 so provides. It further provides that the unacceptable conduct that led to the failure must be documented. ( M-00386, Step 4, July 11, 1977, NC-NAT-6811 - source: MRS )

Q. Is it true that once a letter carrier signs the "Overtime Desired" list, she or he cannot get off the list until the next quarter?

A. No. While Article 8 tells us when an employee may sign the list, the contract is silent as to when an employee may remove his or her name from the list, and management has agreed at Step 4 that an employee may remove his/her name from the list at any time during the quarter.

Q. Is there a "street standard" for walking while delivering mail?

A. No. As stated by the Postal Service: "It is acknowledged that there is no set pace at which a carrier must walk and that there is no street standard for walking."
( Step 4 Decision, NC-S-6716/N5WT-12459, October4, 1977 ).

Q. May supervisors use "DUVRS" figures and "reference volumes" to set office times?

A. No. In a letter dated September 8, 1983, from the USPS Headquarters Delivery Services Department to Regional Directors of Customer Services, it was stated, in pertinent part:"DUVRS volumes and reference volumes are not precise. They are considered to be a linear estimation. Comparison of the reference volume to the daily available volume requiring casing is intended to assist delivery supervisors in the evaluation of the daily workload in order to determine workhours needed and to make better informed decisions regarding the management of the daily available mail volume...."Due to its imprecise nature, reference volume is not to be used to set office time schedules. The M39 Handbook describes the proper procedures for performing interim or minor adjustments, as well as to set or change office times for a route."

Source: Questions and answers were taken from past issues of Contract Talk: Contract Administration Unit, NALC, as published in The Postal Record.

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