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The Postal Service is “not effective” in managing informal grievances, whose numbers and costs have been increasing in recent years, an inspector general audit has said.

The informal grievance process allows employees to discuss and settle grievances with their immediate supervisor over issues such as wages, hours, or conditions of employment. If there is no resolution, the employee or union can file a formal grievance. Payouts increased from about $30 million to $49 million over 2013-2018 as the number of payments increased by about a quarter to 436,000—with most of the rise in the last two years of that period.


The report said that management in seven of the eight districts reviewed had established monetary thresholds for higher-level management review of such payments but “there was no consistency among the districts regarding communicating threshold requirements and documenting reviews of payments that exceeded the thresholds.”

Further, of 25 supervisors who were interviewed, 24 did not take a one-time mandatory course on handling grievances; seven did not take a one-time mandatory course for new supervisors; and nine of those who took at least one of them “indicated that the course content did not contain enough practical knowledge to handle specific grievance issues.”

“Reducing informal grievance costs and payments and increasing the accountability for grievance oversight are critical to ensuring that settlements are valid and equitable; reducing the Postal Service’s risk of additional grievances being filed and improper payments being administered without detection; and reducing costs to process settlement payments. These factors may also affect employee morale, vacancy, and turnover rates,” it said.

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