Background

Unscheduled leave is any absence from work that is not requested or approved in advance and could require management to replace experienced employees, resulting in additional workhours or overtime. This could negatively impact workplace productivity and morale.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) monitors unscheduled leave using the Human Resources Risk Model, which identifies risks that could impact employee morale, productivity, efficiency, and costs. During the last 3 quarters of fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Chicago District was identified as having the highest percentage of unscheduled leave, ranging from 13.5 to 17.3 percent, compared to other districts, with ranges from 5.3 to 10.1 percent. Our objective was to assess unscheduled leave activity in the Chicago District and identify opportunities to reduce it.

What The OIG Found

District management did not effectively oversee unscheduled leave, which led to 635 of 7,804 employees (8 percent) using 344,121 of 737,787 unscheduled leave hours (47 percent). These employees averaged 542 hours compared to the remaining 7,169 employees, averaging 55 hours of leave. We referred these employees to the OIG’s Office of Investigations for further review.

At three sites we visited, representing 185 of the 635 employees (29 percent), 40 of 60 supervisors (67 percent) did not receive training on the Enterprise Resource Management System — the Postal Service’s leave management system — and 32 (53 percent) did not receive training on leave controls. In addition, supervisors did not consistently use the system to monitor unscheduled leave use. Further, district officials did not have an oversight process to review the management of unscheduled leave activity. Finally, district Labor Relations personnel did not review leave management, as required.

Reducing the group of 635 employees’ average individual leave usage of 542 hours, to the remaining employees’ average leave usage of 55 hours, would reduce about 309,000 of the 737,787 total unscheduled leave hours (42 percent). This represents about $3.3 million that could be used more efficiently in FY 2014.

What The OIG Recommended

We recommended management train supervisors and provide guidelines on the Enterprise Resource Management System and leave control. We also recommended management establish processes to ensure reviews of employees’ attendances and leave management are completed.