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USPS RIF - Reduction in Force

USPS ELM: 354.211
Definition of Reduction in Force
Source: USPS ELM - Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

A reduction in force (RIF) is a uniform and systematic way of making organizational changes resulting in the release of an employee from his or her competitive level as defined in 354.217a. A RIF action occurs in the Postal Service when an employee is released from his or her competitive level by separation, demotion, or a reassignment requiring displacement. Release from a competitive level must be caused by elimination or significant modification of existing work, creation of new work, reorganization, transfer of function, an individual's exercise of reemployment or restoration rights, or a reclassification of an employee's position based on the erosion of duties that will take effect after a RIF has been formally announced in the employee's competitive area (see 354.217b), or when a RIF takes effect within 180 days.

Note: With the exception identified above concerning the reclassification of an employee's position, a change to lower grade based on the reclassification of an employee's position due to a change in classification standards or a correction of a classification error is not a RIF.

ELM 354.212 Legal Basis for Reduction in Force

Laws governing RIF are found in Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.), Sections 3501-3503. These laws are implemented in the federal government through regulations issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) (Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), 351). In the Postal Service, these laws apply only to preference eligible employees (individuals entitled to veterans' preference status during a RIF). The legislative provisions making these laws and regulations applicable to preference eligible employees in the Postal Service are found in 39 U.S.C. 1005 (a)(2).

ELM 354.213 Management Responsibility

Management must plan the work and organize the workforce to accomplish Postal Service objectives. This responsibility includes determining the type, number, and location of positions that are to be filled, abolished, or vacated. When changes are anticipated as a result of this responsibility, management determines whether a RIF is necessary and when such action will occur.

The managers of Human Resources at the district and area levels and the manager of Corporate Personnel Management for Headquarters and Headquarters-related units are designated as placement administrators. A placement administrator is responsible for coordinating all RIF avoidance or minimization strategies and placement activities for a competitive area undergoing a RIF. This responsibility includes close coordination with the manager of Selection, Evaluation, and Recognition, competitive area management, and other human resources personnel in other competitive areas. The placement administrator is also responsible for coordinating the activities associated with a reinstatement list (see 354.27). A placement administrator who has direct responsibility over the competitive area in which employees have been separated due to a RIF and who have requested consideration for future reinstatement to the Postal Service is considered the primary placement administrator.

ELM 354.214 Coverage of Reduction in Force Procedures

These RIF procedures apply to the assignment or separation of career nonbargaining employees who occupy positions that have the potential of being impacted by, or will be directly affected by, a RIF. These procedures apply to noncareer nonbargaining employees only to the extent necessary to terminate their employment to avoid (or minimize) the impact of a RIF on career nonbargaining employees.

Exclusion: Bargaining employees are excluded from these procedures. The assignment or separation of excess bargaining employees is in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement and applicable statutes.

ELM 354.215 Veterans' Preference Status

Entitlement to veterans' preference for RIF purposes is based on the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944, as amended, and is codified in various provisions of Title 5, U.S.C. Detailed instructions for adjudicating veterans' preference claims are contained in chapter 7 of the Guide to Processing Personnel Actions, an operating manual issued by OPM. Employees who are eligible for veterans' preference for purposes of initial appointment are also eligible for veterans' preference for RIF, except for employees who are retired members of the uniformed services. Employees who retired from the military must meet one of several special conditions before they can be granted veterans' preference for RIF purposes. The conditions differ and depend on whether the employees retired below, at, or above the rank of major.

PEN Editor:
Rules and regulations governing RIF's are too long to post here

Please Note:
PEN cannot answer RIF, VERA, or retirement questions.


OPM - Office of Personnel Management
RIF - Reduction in Force Information
Source: Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Learning About the RIF Regulations
One of the most difficult situations in any worker's life is being laid off.

In the Federal Government, layoffs are called reduction in force (RIF) actions. When an agency must abolish positions, the RIF regulations determine whether an employee keeps his or her present position, or whether the employee has a right to a different position.

This summary discusses the procedures in the RIF regulations. With this summary, employees, managers, collective bargaining representatives, and others will have an overview of both the agency's and its employees' rights in a restructuring situation.

The appropriate human resource office in the agency can provide additional information on specific questions relating to RIF policies, options, and entitlements.

Legal Basis for the RIF Regulations

The RIF regulations are derived from section 12 of the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 and other statutes. These laws are codified in sections 3501 through 3503 of title 5, United States Code (5 U.S.C. 3501-3503). OPM implements these statutory requirements through regulations published in part 351 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (5 C.F.R. part 351).

The law provides that the RIF regulations must give effect to four retention factors:

  • Tenure of employment (i.e., type of appointment);
  • Veterans' preference;
  • Total creditable Federal civilian and uniformed service; and
  • Performance ratings.

The Agency's Right to Make RIF Decisions

Each agency (including USPS) has the right to decide what positions are abolished, whether a RIF is necessary, and when the RIF will take place. Once the agency makes these decisions, the retention regulations then determine which employee is actually reached for a RIF action.

Actions Covered by the RIF Regulations

An agency must use the RIF regulations before separating or demoting an employee because of an organizational reason such as reorganization, including lack of work, shortage of funds, insufficient personnel ceiling, or the exercise of certain reemployment or restoration rights. In fact, virtually all RIF actions are the result of a reorganization (e.g., the agency reorganizes as the result of a shortage of funds, lack of work, restructuring, etc.).

A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous workdays, is also a RIF action. (A furlough of 30 or fewer calendar days, or of 22 or fewer discontinuous workdays, is an adverse action.)

An agency may not use the RIF regulations to separate or demote an employee for a personal reason, such as problems with the employee's performance or conduct.

For complete OPM RIF information and Veterans preference information please perform Research OPM.

Please Note:
PEN cannot answer RIF, VERA, or retirement questions.


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