Whether it’s a holiday or your mailman is retiring, there may be times you want to show your appreciation for a job well done. Before you spend money on a gift, understand the regulations of the U.S. Postal Service regarding gifts. A strict set of rules dictates what kinds of gifts postal workers are allowed to accept.
Rules and Regulations
U.S. Postal Workers are government employees and must comply with the gift and tipping policy laid out in the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. The federal regulations only permit mail carriers to accept gifts with a value $20 or less. They may only accept one gift from a customer per special occasion, and cannot accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in a calendar year. A postal worker can accept a gift valued at more than $20 if it is perishable item clearly meant to be shared with other employees, for example, a fruit basket or cookie tin.
According to Part 2635 of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, gifts cannot serve as a bribe or a reward for carrying out official duties. Letter carriers also cannot say or do anything to solicit a gift from you. Generally, any items that raise questions of impropriety or personal gain are prohibited. Under these regulations, postal workers cannot accept tips, cash, checks or gift certificates that can be redeemed for currency. Stock, invitations to ticketed events, lodging, transportation, full meals and alcohol are also prohibited. Favors or discounts with clear monetary value must also be declined.
Mail carriers can accept food that does not make up a meal, such as coffee or doughnuts. Small gifts that have little intrinsic value, and clearly cost less than $20, are allowed. This could include a coffee mug, a reusable water bottle, hand warmers or foot lotion. Gift cards of a value of $20 or less, such as a local coffee shop or bookstore gift card, are permissible as long as it is for a specific location. They cannot be from a bank, credit card company or mall.
If you give a postal worker a gift with a market value greater than $20, he or she is required to return the gift or reimburse you for it regardless of how much you paid. For example, if you got discounted tickets for $20 but the retail value can be discerned to be $60, the postal worker cannot accept the gift. The employee also cannot reimburse you for the value above $20. Therefore, if you gave him a gift valued at $30, he cannot pay you $10 and keep the item. Your good intentions can have financial and legal implications for your mail carrier.
Say Thank You
If you can’t meet your mail carrier at the door and thank him verbally, leave him a thank you card. Send a letter to his office’s postmaster expressing your thanks, outlining how your mail carrier has effectively carried out his duties or how he has gone above-and-beyond, will also be appreciated. This type of correspondence is often placed in an employee's personnel file, after being shared with the worker, and may help him in future promotions.
Based in Toronto, J.A. Zander has worked as a full-time journalist since 2004. Zander's work has appeared in Canadian and American magazines, newspapers and websites.