Changes Needed in the United States Postal Service's Rural Carrier Pay Systems

GGD-78-84: Published: Jul 14, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1978.

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The cost of providing postal services in rural and suburban areas was about $885 million during fiscal year 1977. Compensation methods used for rural carriers are the Heavy Duty Schedule, the Rural Carrier Schedule, and hourly rates for carriers serving auxiliary and special compensation routes.

Under the Heavy Duty Schedule, salaries are based on evaluated hours that are computed by applying time standards to the various carrier work load functions. This gives carriers an incentive to complete work in less than the evaluated time since they are then free to leave. While this method is sound, the time standards used to compute evaluated times have not kept pace with changes. On the average, rural carriers need only about 94 percent of evaluated time to service their routes. This results in excessive salary payments of $23.6 million annually. The Rural Carrier Schedule, based on route miles without regard to work load, is inequitable and results in salaries that are not commensurate with hours worked and which are much higher than those received by other employees in the same pay grade. Carriers serving routes not designated according to these schedules, classified as auxiliary rural routes, are paid on an hourly rate basis. This method discourages efficient service. Heavy Duty Schedule carriers on routes evaluated as requiring over 44 hours for delivery receive relief time by using substitute carriers. They often have the option of choosing the amount of relief time they desire. The requiring of carriers to take the maximum relief time option would reduce salary costs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) should negotiate with the National Rural Letter Carriers Association to establish a pay system for Rural Carrier Schedule and auxiliary rural carriers that is similar to the Heavy Duty Schedule method and change the heavy duty relief option provision to require that all Heavy Duty Schedule carriers take the maximum relief time possible. USPS should work with the Association to update Heavy Duty Schedule time standards so that they more closely approximate average actual work hours.

    Agency Affected:


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