The USPS Ethics Office is providing guidance for Postal Service employees on participating in virtual events held by other organizations.
Many such events are being conducted over video or audioconferencing platforms rather than in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A virtual event is a gift if it has monetary value.
If a virtual event’s organizers are charging some attendees a fee to attend but are inviting postal employees to attend for free or at a discounted rate, the virtual event would be a gift to the postal employees.
If the invitation for the virtual event is from someone who does business with the Postal Service or is being offered because of the postal employee’s official position, the employee may not attend unless an exception or exclusion to the gift rules applies.
A virtual event that is free of charge to all attendees is not a gift, unless the event organizers are providing attendees a tangible benefit, such as entertainment or the shipment or delivery of items to attendees of printed materials or gift bags.
If the event organizers are providing attendees a tangible benefit, the postal employee may not attend unless an exception or exclusion to the gift rules applies.
If an employee wants to attend a virtual event that is not free to all, or the event organizers are providing a tangible benefit or item to participants at no charge, the employee should contact the Ethics Office for guidance.
The office will determine whether an exception or exclusion to the gift rules applies or the Postal Service’s agency gift acceptance authority may be used to accept the gift.
If you have questions, email the Ethics Office or call its hotline at 202-268-6346.