BACKGROUND:

Unscheduled leave is defined as "any leave from work that is not requested and approved in advance." All U.S. Postal Service employees are expected to maintain assigned work schedules and avoid taking unscheduled leave. The Postal Service currently has an initiative to increase workforce availability that includes reducing unscheduled leave.

The Los Angeles District had one of the highest unscheduled leave percentages nationwide from fiscal year (FY) 2011 through FY 2013. During this period, unscheduled leave percentages ranged from 11.1 to 13.2 percent. Other districts that had similar-sized workforces during this period had significantly lower unscheduled leave percentages, ranging from 1.8 to 4 percent. Our objective was to assess unscheduled leave activity in the Los Angeles District and identify opportunities for reducing unscheduled leave.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

Los Angeles District management need to improve the process for managing unscheduled leave. We found that supervisors did not always regularly monitor unscheduled leave activity. Also, supervisors at the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center erroneously added new leave entries during reviews instead of editing existing ones, which may have increased reported unscheduled leave occurrences. Also, supervisors did not always properly document and maintain attendance records, which could weaken management’s ability to take corrective action and effectively address formal disputes. In addition, management did not conduct attendance reviews at the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center.

We identified best practices in the San Diego District that, if implemented, may reduce unscheduled leave in the Los Angeles District. We also noted that Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center employees requested unscheduled leave for consecutive leave days in separate daily requests rather than in date range blocks. This results in multiple unscheduled leave occurrences. If the Los Angeles District does not implement changes, the rate of unscheduled leave may continue to increase, which could affect mail distribution operations.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended the Los Angeles District manager develop and implement a clearly defined process for monitoring leave activity, ensure supervisors review existing leave entries, and implement control measures to ensure proper documentation and review of leave activity at the highest risk offices.