The Postal Service’s New National Reassessment Process-Limited Duty

Share this article


(October 2009) On May 29, 2009, the Postal Service completed a pilot program which was implemented in four Postal Service Districts and was designed to reassess limited duty jobs (limited duty jobs are for temporary medical conditions resulting from accepted on-the-job injuries).

Subsequently, the APWU was notified that on July 27, 2009, the Postal Service had finalized their protocols and would begin implementing this limited duty National Reassessment Program (NRP) nationwide, District by District, on a staggered basis. We were informed that prior to the implementation of this limited duty NRP in a District, local union leadership would be notified and employees would receive a stand up talk regarding this program. Postal Service Headquarters has distributed to the field specific instructions that must be followed when a District implements this new process.

Application of this NRP-Limited Duty program can result in the injured employee being offered work for a full day, a partial day, or not offered any work at all. 
These work availability decisions can be made by management on a day-to-day basis. It is important to know that any MMI employees who have not already been reassessed by the original NRP will be reassessed, initially, through this new program.

The pilot program demonstrated the dramatic impact of this new Limited Duty NRP. The Postal Service informed the APWU that of the 2,230 injured employees (all crafts) reassessed during the pilot, only 41% received “full day” job offers, 30% were assigned to “partial day” jobs, and a devastating 29% were told that there was no work available.  

Discussions with the Postal Service

The APWU met repeatedly with Postal Service representatives and argued vigorously that both this new NRP, and the older NRP which is designed for employees who have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), are inappropriate and appear to be an effort to force injured employees out of the Postal Service, or to pressure them to ignore their medical limitations in order to save their jobs. Additionally, we objected to both the failure to provide sufficient notice to the unions and to the employees prior to the “work status” meetings, and to the elimination of the formal interview process which was required in the initial NRP-MMI for rehabilitation jobs. We strongly believe that these changes severely diminish the union’s and the employee’s ability to correct misinformation and to participate in a meaningful interactive exchange of information before decisions are made regarding the availability of medically suitable work.

Also, we have repeatedly pointed out that the language of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) requires only that job offers be medically suitable. There is no handbook language which requires medically restricted jobs to be “operationally necessary”. The Postal Service has unilaterally added this additional criterion, and is using it to improperly deny work assignments to injured employees.  

Discussions with the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

The APWU has had numerous discussions with the principles at DFEC, and they have informed us that when injured employees are not provided medically suitable work, they should complete and submit an initial Form CA-2a“Notice ofRecurrence”. For these employees their “disability”, i.e. their inability to work, has recurred because the Postal Service has not provided them with medically suitable employment. Additional recurrence forms do not have to be completed for subsequent intermittent absences. Employees who want to be eligible to receive wage loss compensation would use LWOP and submit Form CA-7/7a, “Claim for Compensation”, and OWCP will then make decisions regarding entitlement to compensation on a case-by-case basis. An employee may also use paid leave, but they would not be able to buy it back at a later date.

DFEC has issued a FECA Bulletin for the use of their claims examiners in the processing of claims arising from the Postal Service’s NRP.

Additional Information

Employees should file individual grievances when they believe that they have been improperly denied medically suitable employment. The following hyperlink provides detailed suggestions regarding the filing of grievances, and discusses additional information that may be useful to injured employees who find themselves in this unfortunate position: USPS Withdrawal of a Limited Duty/Permanent Rehabilitation Assignment.

Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.