Emergency Federal Employee Leave No Longer Available to USPS Workers 

After Sept. 30, 2021, Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) will no longer be available to Postal Service employees. While this has been effective for some time, it is an important reminder to have an overview guide to understand (EFEL). 

Effective March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act offers employees with up to 600 hours of paid Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL). This is available to employees who cannot work due to qualifying reasons. This leave is available to employees beginning on March 12, 2021 through September 30, 2021—or until the funding established in the Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund (Fund) for reimbursement is exhausted. 

The Postal Service has compiled these Q&As to assist postal employees in understanding EFEL. However, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for the administration of this leave type, so OPM’s requirements pertain to what EFEL generally control.  

Employees can find OPM’s resources on EFEL (called EPL by OPM) here.  

If one still has questions, please follow the Q&A link listed above for a longer and more complete list than the overview given below. 

  1. I. General Information and Eligibility 1. What new leave benefits were created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)? The ARPA created a new type of leave for postal employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The leave consists of up to 600 hours of EFEL for full-time employees (with proportional amounts for other employees) for qualifying COVID-19-related reasons.
  2. When will EFEL be available for me to use? EFEL is available for covered leave taken beginning March 11, 2021 and is expected to continue through September 30, 2021, but availability could end earlier based on notice from OPM that there are no more funds for reimbursement. Under the ARPA, EFEL is available only if there are funds available to reimburse the Postal Service for use of the leave.
  3. I used EFEL before the Postal Service implemented OPM’s finalized guidance. What do I need to do now that the guidance is final? You must complete and provide to your supervisor: (1) an Employee Agreement for EFEL; (2) an EFEL Employee Notification and Leave Request Form; and (3) all appropriate supporting documentation based on your qualifying reason(s) for using EFEL. If you do not timely provide the required forms and documentation to your supervisor, your EFEL will be converted to another appropriate leave category at your election or to leave without pay (LWOP) if you so elect or do not make an election. A conversion to LWOP will create a debt owed by you to the Postal Service. You can find additional information about the required forms and documentation below.

Effective immediately, employees requesting EFEL must provide the following information:  

  1. A completed PS Form 3971, Request for or Notification of Absence;
  2. COVID-19 Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) Employee Notification and Leave Request Form (Employee Notification and Leave Request Form) and all documentation required by the specific qualifying circumstance (as indicated on the Request Form); and 5
  3. A signed Employee Agreement in Connection with Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) Provided Under Section 4001 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Employee Agreement). The Employee Agreement is required for only the first use of EFEL. The Employee Notification and Leave Request Form requires employees identify the following information; qualifying circumstance(s) that render the employee unable to work, date(s) of EFEL usage, and the additional documentation requirements for each qualifying circumstance.

There are also four (4) Employee Certifications that the employee must initial. In addition to signing and dating the Employee Notification and Leave Request Form, the employee must attach a copy of the Employee Notification and Leave Request Form to the Employee Agreement and provide all required forms and information to his or her supervisor. The Employee Agreement indicates that approval of EFEL is conditional and subject to the availability of EFEL funds.  

All employees who were conditionally approved for EFEL leave under the Postal Service’s interim policy, which started on March 11, 2021, must complete an Employee Notification and Leave Request Form, supply additional related documentation, and complete the Employee Agreement retroactively for the EFEL that was previously approved. This information must be submitted to their respective supervisor within ten (10) days of receiving these forms. Failure to provide these completed, signed forms will result in a denial of EFEL. In such cases, the employee’s EFEL will be converted to leave without pay (LWOP) and the employee will be liable for repayment of the EFEL taken or the employee may elect to convert the EFEL used to another applicable, paid type of accrued leave. 

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