Becoming a Postal Service Worker: USPS Employment Eligibility Requirements and Benefits (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Jun 23, 2011

USPS Compensation and Employment Benefits

The U.S. Postal Service provides compensation packages to its employees that are very competitive with those offered by most private-sector employers. New Postal Service employees in career positions are usually paid an hourly wage. In 2006, the beginning wage for entry-level career positions was between $15 and $20 per hour. Overtime pay is provided at the rate of one-and-a-half times the regular wage beyond 8 hours during any workday or beyond 40 hours during a workweek. Employees who work night shifts or on Sundays receive premium pay as well. Most employees receive regular wage or salary increases.

For most job seekers, the first question about any particular job that comes to mind is, “How much does the job pay?” But other questions soon come to mind as well—for example:

Is health insurance provided?

How many days off do I get each year?

Is a 401(k) or similar savings program available?

One of the attractions of working for the USPS is the generous benefits package offered to employees. Here’s a brief description of those benefits. Keep in mind that there may be a waiting period for some benefits, and that some benefits may be available only to full-time or career USPS employees.

Health Insurance

A variety of health-insurance plans, including HMOs (health maintenance organizations) and traditional health-insurance plans, are available to qualifying USPS employees through the Federal Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. Most of the costs are paid by the Postal Service. The portion of the costs paid for by the employee (in the form of premiums) offsets the employee’s taxable income.

Social Security and Medicare

Both types of coverage are provided to all USPS employees.

Retirement Benefits

Through a federal program, the USPS provides a defined-benefit annuity program, which guarantees a certain level of income during retirement, as well as disability benefits to qualifying employees.

Life Insurance

A basic life-insurance plan paid for entirely by the Postal Service is provided to qualifying USPS employees, who also have the option to purchase additional coverage by payroll deduction. All coverage is provided through the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Qualifying USPS employees may participate in a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is a lot like the 401(k) plans provided by private-sector employers. Under this plan, the employer (the USPS) matches the employee’s TSP contribution each year up to a certain percentage (currently 5 percent) of the employee’s compensation. The TSP provides a vehicle for tax-deferred retirement savings, and plan contributions reduce the employee’s taxable compensation.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Qualifying postal employees may participate in the Postal Service’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Program. Under this program, an employee can make tax-free contributions up to a certain amount each year to an FSA account. The employee may withdraw FSA funds to pay for qualifying health and child-care expenses at any time without tax or penalty.

Vacation and Sick Leave

During the first three years of employment, qualifying employees are allowed a total of 13 days of vacation and sick leave per year. After three years of employment, the total number of days allowed for leave each year increases to 20, and after 15 years, the total number increases to 26. Full-time employees are also allowed 13 additional days of sick leave per year as insurance against loss of income as a result of illness or accident.


The USPS currently observes 10 holidays, so all USPS employees receive 10 days off each year for holidays.


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