Few employees take USPS buyout offer

About 18,000 USPS employees are expected to take $15,000 buyouts to leave their jobs this year — far less than the 30,000 originally projected by the agency, report the Federal Times. The article continues:

Postal officials say that figure isn’t final. Employees were required to sign up for the incentives by 16 October, but they can still opt out of the program over the next few weeks. Most employees have until 30 November to opt out – but those close to retirement age, called “optionally eligible” employees, must decide by 31 October.

The Postal Service announced the buyout program in August and projected it could save up to $500m next year. But that calculation was based on 30,000 employees accepting the offer. Yvonne Yoerger, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said it’s too early to calculate how much money the Postal Service will save from the buyouts if only 18,000 employees accept. The final sum will vary depending on the salaries and seniority of the employees who accept the offer.

Most of the employees who took the offer are close to retirement age, Yoerger said.

Employees will receive the incentive in two payments: $10,000 by 31 December and $5,000 beginning 1 October 2010.

The Postal Service has made four previous rounds of early retirement offers in the last 18 months. Few employees accepted: The last offer, which was extended to 147,937 employees earlier this year, was accepted by just 2,505 of them – less than 2%. The previous offer, which concluded in February, was accepted by just 2.3% of eligible employees.

In total, about 11,000 employees accepted those four offers, none of which included incentives.

The offers are among a number of cost-cutting measures undertaken by the troubled agency. The Postal Service ran a nearly $7bn deficit in fiscal 2009, which ended on 30 September, and expects a similar level of red ink this year. Postal managers trimmed more than 110m work hours in 2009; the agency is also under a nationwide hiring freeze, and is looking to close hundreds of underused facilities across the country.

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