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USPS wants employees to remember the ethics guidelines for group gifts

December 19, 2023

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The Postal Service wants employees to remember the ethics guidelines for group gifts, especially during the holidays.

While employees are generally prohibited from giving a gift to a supervisor or a colleague who earns more money, there is an exception for special, infrequent occasions.

These occasions include marriages, births, illnesses, retirement, resignation and transfers.

Group gifts are permitted on these occasions, as long as they meet certain requirements, including these:

• All contributions must be completely voluntary.

• Employees who are subordinate or paid less than the recipient of the gift may contribute up to $10 toward the group gift. Employees who rank higher or receive more pay may contribute an amount appropriate to the occasion.

• To ensure that employees do not feel coerced to contribute to a group gift, the lowest-level person in the group should organize the group gift collection.

Keep in mind: Holidays are not considered special, infrequent occasions. As a result, group gifts are not permitted for holidays.

Group collections are also permitted for food and refreshments to be shared in the workplace, including celebrations during the holiday season.

If the event is catered and the caterer charges a per-person cost, then attendees can be asked to pay the per-person cost.

Otherwise, contributions toward the food and refreshments by subordinates or lower-paid employees must be limited to $10 or less per person and must be completely voluntary.

Employees are also permitted to contribute food, potluck-style, as long as all contributions are voluntary and no employee is told what to bring.

Also, employees may not be coerced to participate — and those who do not contribute may still attend.

The Holiday Ethics Guide has additional guidance.

Employees who have questions should email the USPS Ethics and Legal Compliance Office or call the ethics hotline at 202-268-6346

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