on Jun 6th, 2011 in Labor | 24 comments
 
It happens many times . . . a company invests time and money into training employees only to have them leave soon after the training is complete. Some industries and companies now have contractual agreements requiring employees to repay training costs to their employers if they separate from employment before a specified period. Congress has also passed legislation requiring continued service agreements from government employees who have received extensive training. These contracts obligate employees to continue working for the agency (or another government agency, depending on their employer’s policy) for a period at least equal to three times the length of the training. If the employee leaves government service before the agreed-upon service time, the agency has the right to require repayment for the amount of time not served. Private sector industries such as information technology, airline, and trucking are also requiring employees to sign these types of agreements. One company requires employees to sign contracts for training programs that are considered expensive and time intensive. The company uses a formula that equates one month of labor for every $1,000 of costs; for example, a $7,000 course would require a seven month commitment.

The U.S. Postal Service employs approximately 40,000 maintenance craft employees to work in a variety of assignments. Some of these assignments, such as maintenance mechanics, require specific training at great cost to the Postal Service. For example, one training course lasts 13 days and costs $3,325 per employee.

Should employees receiving specialized training sign contracts to remain with the Postal Service for a specified period so that the cost of providing the training can be recouped? Should employees who received training be permitted to leave for more lucrative positions in the private sector as soon as they are certified without compensating the Postal Service? Should such restrictions apply to all Postal Service employees who receive specialized training?

This blog is hosted by the Office of Audit's Network Processing team.

24 Comments


The flaw in that logic is most times we are being trained in equipment that NO ONE ELSE USES!
And usually the training is a requirement, not something we sought.
Unless of course you are propsing a serfdom of involuntary servitude. In which case, your argument makes sense.
So, make this new rule, then close the schools. Because no one will go.

While we are not advocating "a serfdom of involuntary servitude", we do recognize that, no matter the career, continuing education and training in the field benefits both the employee and the employer. However, this often requires a commitment by both parties, a commitment by the employee to set aside time to take training and a commitment by the employer to both provide training and pay the employee while being trained. While we recognize that a lot of the training provided to Postal employees is specific to Postal operations, some training can be highly valuable to companies outside the Postal Service. Would you agree that any area which involves expensive training which can be used outside of the Postal Service, for example, vehicle maintenance training, should require a time commitment to ensure the Postal Service recoups the money it is spending on training that individual?

The vehicle maint. staff @ Oklahoma are very good, and their programs are worth every penny. But the fact is, it might take YEARS before you schedule training you need. In the meantime, the trucks need to be fixed.
Because the PO can't stop thinking that everone is out to get them, you would never believe this, but we spend our own time and money, going to trade shows for seminars, taking training from parts companies that we worked with before the P.O. We go to manufacturers websites, and take online training specific to our vehicles. Becuse the manuals are on CD's we can print out sections of the manuals, and study them at home, all on our own time.
And what's our reward?
More Accusations of "Getting Over on the PO".
Yeah, I feel smart :(

Sure if the USPS is will to pay for all employees costs (everything including home) when they excess an employee to a new office and then turn around and excess them from there within months. USPS sign contract that if they excess an employee to any office within 5 yrs of either employment or previous excess then the USPS will pay 100% of everything involved with the excessing.

I have seen Boss's send people to school when it was well known that the employee was going to retire within months just out of spite. You are asking for management to use common sense but that only happens about 50% of the time.

I'll buy your argument if the OIG will also do a concurrent study on how much training takes place off the clock. The fact is that in many smaller offices PMRs and other non-career employees are forced into a situation where they must work off the clock in order to receive adequate training.
Postmsters and managers in small offices are essentially punished if they adhere to on the clock training. The employee either receives cursory and insubstantial training or the manager must violate her budget requirements.

Thank you for your comment. To further explore this issue, what ideas can you share with us for identifying how much training takes place “off the clock”?

I am aware of an ET who will be retiring in no more than 6 months and has notified mgmnt of such. He is being required to attend the first 6 week phase of FSS in Norman and may also attend phase 2 for 6 weeks.That is rediculous. Mgmnt should be held accountable for this sort of BS Not just the Craft.

Thank you for your comment. You bring up an interesting point. If in fact the employee you refer to has officially notified USPS management of his intention to retire and a retirement date has been set, then it would cause us to question whether sending such an employee to six weeks of very specialized and costly training was really necessary. Should these actions prove to be widespread, this is an issue that could be considered for further review.

I believe it would be more cost effective to retain the employee's with the most schooling and knowledge and aptitude. Why doesn't the Postal Service give ET's a monetary award to stay on another 3 or 4 years? Just like in the Military

I would suggest a distinction needs to be made between voluntary and involuntary training.

If an employee volunteer for training then it seems reasonable that he or she has to pay it back. If an employee is involuntarily assigned to training that it seems unreasonable to me.

I think we all have known at least one fellow employee who has abused the system i.e. attending training with full plans to retire and "pay management back" or other nonsense.

You made a good point. When the employee finished the training, he should be compensated with a higher pay since he is now more skilled than before and could do more as an employee.
price action trading course

This type of thinking should apply to everyone, salary and craft employees. And, when an employee is FORCED to go to training, the USPS eats the cost, or recovers the cost from the responsible party. If it is known that said employee was soon to leave the USPS, the manager or supervisor responsible for forcing the employee to attend training should now liable for the cost.

Your argument almost makes sense but takes the typical postal view of the bad employee, you should consider the opposite employee's view, that if I am better trained then I would be worth more. How about incentives for completing training? Scaled incentives for higher scores when attending training? How about we drop the stick and offer more carrot for a change?

I have been employed by the Postal service since Jan, 1995. I have attended training at NCED in Norman OK over 20 times. Very few of the courses translate to the "outside" world. If areas such as vehical maintenance are experiencing a problem, than I would think the real issue is we are not paying the VMF Mechanics enough. I would have to see documentd proof that this is a wide spread problem befor I would aggree to such drastic measures. Others have already brought up the issue of attending training close to retirement. I can see the potential for abuse from both management and craft. But the contract controls how people are selected for training. Senior volunteers and involuntarily by juniority. How do you force a employee who is retiring within 6 months? I would think this individual would be at the top of the seniority list and everyone below him/her would have had to already been to the training.

I am a MPE and would not be against the proposed idea if the system of training were the same as the private sector! Many posters have already stated how the current system is abused by management forcing people to attend classes for reasons unrelated to the business. Likewise, they withhold classes as punishment and unrelated reasons also.

If employees were notified before accepting a position that they would have to take certain classes and given schedules then I believe the idea to retain the employee for a certain period would be proper.

The current system and contract language as well as the general lack of knowledge on the part of most Maintenance managers and supervisors leaves this idea (One of the more coherent ideas I have read on this blog) floating in the toilet.

I remember the first training session I attended at the USPS orientation.
I quoted exactly, because I wrote it down on my Blackberry.
The "trainer" described the cardinal rule of the USPS. (don't know the qualifications of them, if any, as reflected in their mastery of the english language)
"THE POST OFFICE DON'T LIKE CHANGE", "THE POST OFFICE DON'T LIKE TO DO
ANYTHING DIFFERENT". "THEY LIKE THINGS TO BE THE SAME ALL THE TIME".
Like the so called training experts at FEMA/PEMA. The qualifications,
like the qualifications of the Transportation Managers where I work,
are...... ahem.... "loose"... if existent at all....
You see, training requires demonstrated skills aquired over years of experience, or education.
You simply can't invent education or learned skills with a Power Point
Presentation.

For arguments sake:
Lets set up a system that tracks these training costs, checks against everyone that leaves employment, then attempts to recover them.
I'll bet a paycheck that this system costs much more than it ever recovers.

The Network Processing Team would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for responding to our blog.

I have often wondered why there is no continuing education for the clerk and carrier crafts. We are the ones that spot postage and mail-ability problems.

Another thing to consider is the lost revenue of items being delivered without regard to proper postage, specially in small offices.

I see it on a daily basis. Items mailed at Media rate receiving forwarding service without charge, parcel post items returned or forwarded without charge. BBM not being charged on return service. And now with the new parcel select regulation regarding forwarding of items and surcharges, without proper training and supervision, this service will not be handled right.

It wouldnt take much to keep the employees informed on things. A half day or whole day of training for updating employees once a year, mandatory should do it. The cost to the post office would be small considering the revenue that is lost from ignorance in small offices around the country.

Well, it's because CEU's are things that motivated people usually
aquire in an effort to have more mobility in the workplace.
From my observations, errrr, I mean through the eyes of a "casual"
observer; the postal attitude is "I'll be here till I retire".

Now, let's dissect the statement.
I'll - I'm only interested in my world.
be here- Like a tick on a dog. I'm not going anywhere...
till I retire- Why apply myself? I'm never going any where else.

Missing adverb between be and here - "working"

I think the answer falls in the gray area. Companies, whether in the private or public sector, have to be prepared to experience loses in training. From an employees perspective, if you have trained me but your organization is below what I would consider a satisfy work environment (not challenging enough, or co-workers are less than favorable, or its too stressful, etc..), then i should have the right to leave with no strings attached. In this regard companies tend to have their training department play up all the great things about a company without pointing out some of the things may be deterrents to certain individuals. On the other hand, companies should have the right to "collect" on the investment of upper-level training but should be limited to only require that they work the amount of time it took to train them and not some empirical number of the amount they were expecting to profit from the trained individual.

No, I do not agree with such employment agreements unless there are escape clauses allow the employee to leave if is not placed in a position with the corresponding compensation and responsibilities that the training would dictate. Also the value and means of calculating the training must be specified in the contract. It is two easy for an employer to say that the training cost was the trainers fee plus one week of the employees salary plus the cost of replacement for one week. If there are 25 people in the class the cost is 1/25 of the trainers fee and other expenses. Also, it company facilities are used they cannot be charged back to the employee.

This is just another form of indentured servitude.

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