Postal service inspector general seeking data on sick time views

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Citing $1.4 billion spent last year on sick leave, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) is soliciting comments on what it can do to reduce the number of unscheduled absences among postal employees.

The OIG has posted a survey on its blog site, which queries attitudes toward sick time and how it is used, with statements such as “I work hard and sometimes I need to call in sick to take a rest day.”

The OIG is collecting the data as anecdotal information, and it may be used as part of an ongoing audit on attitudes in the postal service, an OIG spokesperson said.

According to the blog, the USPS indentified about 35,000 of its 640,026 employees who had 20 or more unscheduled absences last year, which translates to 5% of employees with nearly one absence for every pay period.

As a result, the USPS' absenteeism rate was 4.3% in 2008, compared to the 1.1% rate the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for private sector employees, the blog said.

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