The U.S. Postal Service is offering early retirement incentives to 26,000 mail handlers and clerks to start off 2018. Employees who accept the offer must separate from the agency by the end of March. Those eligible can also choose to retire by the end of January or February.
Employees began receiving offers Monday, and USPS will continue to send them out throughout the week. To qualify under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, employees must have 20 years of experience and be at least 50 years old, or have 25 years of service and be any age.
The Office of Personnel Management granted permission, so USPS can offer these incentives. The Postal Service has no plan to offer buyouts in conjunction with VERA incentives. Eligibility letters from USPS will include annuity estimates and will emphasize to employees that voluntary early retirement “is just that—voluntary”.
The Postal Service shed 6,500 jobs in 2017, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They have also cut close to 300,000 positions over the last 30 years through separation incentives and natural attrition.
USPS is “right-sizing” its workforce due to reduced mail volume. In 2017, mail volume dropped at a much faster rate than expected, leading to the offer of early retirements. They lost $2.7 billion last year and suffered a “controllable” loss for the first time in 5 years.
“This VERA action is part of ongoing efforts to right-size our workforce through attrition to match current and projected overload,” Carl Walton, a Postal Service spokesman said, “and in response to the recent acceleration of the declines in mail volume.”