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Please Release Me—Let Me Go!
By Brian Wagner
Some NAPS members wish to seek postal advancement or even a lateral move to a new EAS position. As such, these members accept higher-level EAS detail assignments to gain more experience to prepare themselves for that next position. They even may earn a Lean Six Sigma belt to improve their chances.
If fortunate, after having their hard work recognized and appreciated, they are selected for a promotion or a lateral. Once that happens, their PS Form 50 is processed, officially transferring them to their new EAS position. They now are ready, willing and able to get started in their new postal job. But wait! For some, there’s a catch. Here’s the scoop.
Occasionally, NAPS hears from members who have received either a promotion or a lateral, but their current manager will not release them in a timely manner to start their new EAS position in another office. Members have asked if there is a postal rule that says EAS employees must be released to their new postal positions within a certain time.
Something exists to that effect, but I would not call it a rule. There is no “must,” but, rather, postal guidelines that are subject to interpretation. So, is there a correct answer?
There are a few postal references that address when EAS employees may be released to new, non-bargain-ing positions. First, Handbook EL-312, Section 744, “Implementing the Selection,” paragraph 744.1, “Effective Dates,” addresses placement regarding implementation of EAS employees. It reads:
774.1 Effective Dates
“The gaining and losing organizations must coordinate effective dates to ensure appropriate coverage.”
The next reference is ELM 351.53, “Policies,” Section (d), which reads:
“The following promotion policies apply: “d. Employees selected for promotion are released rom their current positions without undue delay. This is normally not later than two to four weeks after selection or in conformance with the provisions of any applicable labor agreement.”
Another reference is from two monthly NAPS/USPS consultative meetings. During the November 2014 and January 2015 consultatives, NAPS requested, per a national convention resolution, that the Postal Service issue a national policy directing the release of all EAS employees selected as successful candidates for new EAS positions be completed in no more than 30 days.
The Postal Service responded that it considers the interests of employees selected for jobs, as well as the business and operating interests of the losing and gaining installations. The Postal Service acknowledged that placing employees in their new jobs without undue delay is important.
The Postal Service expects installation heads of both the losing and gaining offices to communicate and cooperate in agreeing on a release date. Also, installation heads need to be mindful of the business and operating needs of their respective installations. The Postal Service anticipates that the release date should be no later than 90 days from selection. The Postal Service does not intend to devalue the interests and needs of either the employee or the business/operations involved.
NAPS’ position is that EAS employees are at the whim of one manager or another without having a specific process to release them to their new positions. The Postal Service reiterated that releasing an EAS employee to a new position within 90 days is a reasonable guideline, but not absolute. The USPS reaffirmed its position by referencing Handbook EL-312, Section 744.1.
What I call a “please release me, let me go” issue has no true, specific policy on the number of days when an EAS employee must be released to their new position. Again, based on past consultative meetings and referencing Handbook EL-312 and ELM 351.53, releasing non-bargaining employees to their new positions could range from two weeks to 90 days or more, depending on the agreement between the losing and gaining managers.
What should an EAS employee do if they believe there is an unreasonable delay in being released to their new EAS position?
First, verify that your Form 50 has actually been cut, transferring you to your new postal position. A verbal or email notification that you have been promoted or accepted for a lateral move is not official until your Form 50 has been changed to that effect. If your Form 50 is not changed, you still are an employee in your current office, reporting to your current manager.
Second, once selected for a new non-bargaining position, the position of NAPS is that your Form 50 should be processed on the next available postal pay period. If it is not, contact your local NAPS representative to talk to local leadership to determine when your Form 50 will be processed and a release date scheduled.
Third, if your Form 50 has been processed, but you have yet to be released to your new EAS position, make sure you verify that postal leadership has completed a Form 1723 documenting that you are on “detail” in your former office while you wait to be released to your new office.
Fourth, once your Form 50 is processed, make sure you are properly compensated, especially if you are to receive a promotional pay increase. Furthermore, as you wait for your release, you may be entitled to reimbursement for the mileage difference to and from your home, former and new office. You also may be entitled to per-diem and lodging expenses while on detail. However, verify through Handbook F-15, “Travel and Relocation,” if you qualify for any reimbursement for expenses while on detail in your former office pending your release.
Fifth, as an “outside the box” thought, ask for an eAward for being detailed to your former office. If your former manager cannot release you within 30 days or sooner, consider the fact that you bring great value, postal experience and improved performance to that office. Therefore, it only would be fitting that you receive an eAward to recognize your valuable contributions to the Postal Service and your unit.
Postal leadership should consider the overall benefits to the USPS when respective EAS employees are released to their new positions in a timely and reasonable manner. I am confident these employees will become more engaged and well-motivated knowing they are being released in a timely manner.
Now, consider the benefits you will receive as I release my ice-cream-flavor-of-the-month recommendation for February 2019: black raspberry chocolate chip.