USPS Automatic Payroll Collection Process Lacks Safeguards

Chapters 450 and 460 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual were recently revised to accommodate a new expedited debt collection procedure called the Automatic Payroll Collection Process. It eliminates an important safeguard for employees found in the JCIM Article 28.4 – that a Letter of Demand must be signed by the postmaster or his/her designee.

The Accounting Service Center is notorious for sending out questionable invoices and Letters of Demand to employees without adequate explanation or documentation. The Debt Collection Act, 5 U.S. Code § 5514, says that prior to initiating any proceedings to collect an indebtedness of an individual, the agency shall provide the individual with an opportunity to inspect and copy Government records relating to the debt. USPS Letters of Demand do not inform the employee of this right.

Postal Bulletin 22542 described the Automatic Payroll Collection Process as follows:

All debt collection notices will be sent directly to the employee’s address of record and will serve as the official notification. Debt collection will begin automatically after 60 days unless there is a grievance or judicial hearing that requires the rule to be held in abeyance.

Supervisors and managers of field units must complete the Employee Debt Modification Request Form using the eIWS OnLine Forms application to notify Accounting Services to suspend or restart auto-collection, or to modify an employee receivable debt.

The USPS instructions for processing an Employee Debt Modification Request are attached. Too often, when an employee or retiree initiates a grievance or asks for the documentation supporting a Letter of Demand, the Automatic Payroll Collection Process proceeds anyway.

First Name: Don
Last Name: Cheney
Union/Local: APWU-Auburn WA Local
Office held if any: Retired President

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