With the Postal Service workforce no longer as uniform as it once was, new questions arise regarding policies regarding the wearing of uniforms, according to the postal IG, which has begun examining implications that could apply as well to other agencies that require some of their employees to wear uniforms.

The IG recently raised the issue in a blog posting after earlier soliciting comments regarding policies for rural carriers, who are not required to wear a uniform. It noted that rural routes are increasingly suburban and rural carriers are thus more visible to the public–plus, they “serve as something of a post office on wheels.” The overwhelming majority of responses to that request for feedback favored requiring a uniform, it said.

It added that a recent agreement between USPS and the American Postal Workers Union for the first time provides for a uniform allowance for career clerk employees assigned to post offices open only part-time.

Further, in recent years the USPS has shifted many jobs from traditional full-time permanent positions to temporary non-career employees, only some of whom get a uniform allowance and only after a certain amount of time on the job. “Of course, some positions have no contact with the general public, such as the postal support personnel that process mail in plants, making a uniform less necessary perhaps,” it said.

It said there are questions to be resolved whether all employees should wear a uniform or only those visible to the public, or whether wearing a uniform at all is outdated.