APWU: Internal USPS NRP Letter No Cause for Celebration

An internal USPS document  indicating that the reassessment of Limited Duty and Rehabilitation employees concluded on Jan. 31, 2011, is not cause for celebration, Human Relations Director Sue Carney says, because the National Reassessment Process (NRP) seems to have been eliminated in name only. (note: As PostalReporter.com reported, USPS calls NRP simply ELM546. Other instructions given to managers included how the PS Form 2499 (limited-duty offer) was completed. Previously managers were improperly inserting language into the PS 2499).  “Despite the declaration, we continue to receive numerous calls regarding work-hour withdrawals and recurrence claims,” she said. “Compounding suspicions that NRP has been eliminated in name only is a USPS field document that says existing limited-duty assignments will continue to be altered; asserts that revised NRP documents will be used prospectively, and specifies the agency will continue to rely upon the Electronic Search System to document its search efforts.”

The July 1 letter from the USPS Employee Resource Management Department was sent to USPS Area Vice Presidents.

To date, the APWU has received no notice from the Postal Service regarding changes to the NRP, Carney said.

The Status of NRP

Sue Carney, APWU Director Human Relations Dept.

Recently a Postal Service official confirmed that as of December 2010 all reassessments were completed. As a result, the National Reassessment Process protocols are no longer being used. APWU was advised that official union notification has been delayed until authorization is granted by the USPS Legal Department and Labor Relations.

Despite the declaration, we continue to receive numerous calls regarding work-hour withdrawals and recurrence claims — an indication that there is little call for celebration and continued cause for concern. Compounding suspicions that NRP has been eliminated in name only is a USPS field document that says existing limited- duty assignments will continue to be altered; asserts that revised NRP documents will be used prospectively, and specifies the agency will continue to rely upon the Electronic Search System to document its search efforts.

Smoke and Mirrors

It seems this has all been orchestrated to shield the USPS from receiving additional backlash as a result of NRP. The Postal Service has not fared well before MSPB or in the grievance-arbitration process, and it is still facing the possibility of paying a mammoth settlement to EEO complainants. The inability to meet daily obligations, extraordinary congressional investigations, and negative press has brought objections from frontline supervisors as well as OWCP. Reassessment has cost an exorbitant amount of money — so extreme the Postal Service has refused to disclose the figure. After examining these facts, it is easy to see why the USPS would want to create the illusion that these programs have ended. The Postal Service may claim to have done away with NRP and its protocols but the reality is we have seen little evidence to show that it has revised its objectives or its return-to-work policies regarding injured workers.

The Rules Have Not Changed

Employers have the same obligations with or without an NRP. For example, employers must provide workers with CA forms, submit completed forms timely to OWCP, and provide copies to employees. Most injured workers are protected by the Rehabilitation Act. This requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to enable disabled workers to perform a job. When an employee is capable of working their bid with or without accommodation, this is not considered a modified assignment (EL-505 -Chapter 7). When this is not possible, the employer must make every effort to find medically suitable work in accordance with ELM 546 – which requires searches be conducted in all crafts, hours, and in our opinion all facilities — not just those within the commuting area. When there is “no work available” or an employee is offered fewer hours than they are capable of working, daily searches should be conducted. In the interim, these employees should request Form SF-8 to file for unemployment benefits. Eligibility varies by state. The union should never accept a worksheet or information contained in the Electronic Search Program as accurate. All postal officials involved in job searches should be interviewed, daily if necessary, to establish whether the Postal Service met its obligation.

Job offers should be made in compliance with ELM 545.32 and should include at least four hours of work when employees are capable of working four or more hours. Any changes to an accepted offer make it a new offer. All job offers, accepted or refused, must be submitted to OWCP. Any withdrawal of work renders the job offer temporary and serves as an excellent argument to modify previous Wage Earning Capacity determinations (AJ. v. USPS; ECAB 10-6190 6/29/2010).

When work is not afforded or when OWCP benefits are denied, injured employees should always seek guidance from their union representatives and pursue all avenues of justice including the grievance-arbitration process, MSPB appeals, EEO complaints, OWCP’s Branch of Hearings and Review and ECAB.

9 thoughts on “APWU: Internal USPS NRP Letter No Cause for Celebration

  1. One comment raised an interesting point- why remain at the postal service if you can no longer do the job and do OWCP instead. Well, the Postal Service’s Rehabilitation Program obligates the Postal Service to find work within that employment’s medical limitations. This is consistent with the requirements of the Federal Employees Compensation Act and its regulations. An employee who rejects an offer of suitable work within medical limitations may be subject to adverse decisions, among other things, such as a reduction of OWCP benefits. The NRP violated just about every law, regulation, and policy pertaining to permanent rehabilitation employees, including the collective bargaining agreements. From my vantage point, the only thing that matched the poor design of the NRP was its poori and rather capricious implementation. I’ve seen several instances where one Postal District reassigned permanent rehabs to out of state jobs – without informing them the jobs were full duty positions!

  2. This Article hits the nail on the head. These facts were all addressed in my prior EEO’s (ie. the changing of the wording, the definition of Modified Work Assignment). Management now refuses to RIF their overstaffed management so they keep the NRP involved useless Managers around to do nothing. I’ve always stated and I will always testify that the USPS’s NRP is a sham program. The USPS now wants to say that they project a $9 Billion loss for 2011 because they had to add $1 Billion in unexpected additional losses. Geez, sounds like my previous blog saying they should award the limited duty people $1 Billion in damages which would come out to about $10,000 each person. That would give the EEOC some backbone if it were to happen. The PO should surrender now before they cost themselves more losses.

  3. The name was changed (NRP) but the game of not being able to find work for injuried employees within the Postal Service remains the same. Management would had rather inconvinance you by not even attempting to find suitable work, or better yet call you in for an investigative interview for getting hurt on the job which in most cases lead to discipline.

  4. DID! Too much BS and too many asses like you, Limpster..Sounds like you need viagra?

  5. Limp dick?? Does that bring back memories for you? The PO wants to wear you down then throw you away. Maybe you don’t have a problem with that but I do. I gave 20+ years and I am broke the hell down. So your a pussy and don’t have the balls to stand up for yourself,right? if you want to wear yourself out go ahead but don’t get pissed cause I have the balls to say I am NOT going to let you F me up and then not pay me for it. Its not gonna happen,MR. Limp..no way no how…so you stay there and do the work for me and bitch and moan about how unfair it is cause poor little Mr. Limp has to do all the work….waaaaaa!!! By the way limpy, light duty and limited duty are 2 different things….:)

  6. Limp dicks? Does that bring back memories? The PO wants to wear you down and then throw you away when you can’t do the job. Light duty is not the same as limited duty. Moron.

  7. If you can’t do the Job…..do OWCP……”I can only lift 5 Pounds”…..”I can only stand for one hour”……..What the Hell do these people want the Post Office to do? I know a person who was on “light duty” for 17 Freaggin Years! Then they try to get into Management with all the other Limp Dicks!

  8. Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Rec’d a letter from OWCP to go for a 2nd opinion to see if I’m able to do my bid job. Guess these fools don’t realize that I have been retired for over a year now. Guess I will go to the appt. they made for me….

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