Emergency leave ends Sept. 30

Emergency federal employee leave (EFEL) will no longer be available to Postal Service employees after Sept. 30.

EFEL forms should not be used to cover any leave dates beyond this date.

COVID-19-related absences after Sept. 30, and documentation to support such absences, must be addressed using the postal leave policies in effect at that time.

EFEL was established under the American Rescue Plan Act, a law that took effect March 11, and provided additional paid leave for absences caused by qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.

EFEL was authorized only through Sept. 30 or until EFEL funds were exhausted, whichever came first.

The COVID-19 Employee Resources pages on Blue and LiteBlue have additional information, including EFEL documents.

Death takes a holiday

The Postal Service will release its Day of the Dead stamps on Sept. 30.

Dia de los Muertos, as it is known in Spanish, is observed Nov. 1-2 and is an amalgam of Roman Catholic and Indigenous Mexican traditions. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the holiday in 2008 as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The celebration — despite what can seem like ghoulish imagery, it is a joyful, festive occasion — centers around the idea that the spirits of the departed return to the land of the living at this time. Offerings of the spirits’ favorite food and drink are placed on altars bedecked with marigolds and crafts to lure them.

Decorated skulls, or calaveras, are perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the holiday. Each of the four stamps features one, together forming a family: a mustachioed father, a mother with curls, a daughter with her hair in a bow, and another child.

The bright white of the skulls is accented with vibrantly colored embellishments, set off by a matte black background.

Luis Fitch was the stamps’ illustrator and designer and Antonio Alcalá provided the art direction.

The Forever stamps are available at Post Offices and at usps.com.

Test of time

“News Quiz” is a weekly feature that lets you test your knowledge of recent Link stories. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. Under the Postal Service’s misuse-of-time rules, which of the following personal activities are generally permissible when an employee is on duty?

a) Calling a doctor’s office to make an appointment
b) Watching a movie for entertainment
c) Taking a call for an outside business
d) All of the above

2. Fill in the blank: LiteBlue recently introduced its first major redesign since (blank)?

a) 2004
b) 2008
c) 2012
d) 2016

3. Approximately how many job seekers attended the recent USPS career fair in Dallas?

a) 400
b) 450
c) 500
d) 550

4. Where will employees find the new Business Reply Mail training course?

a) BlueTube
c) Informed Facility
d) Link mobile

5. True or false: People of Hispanic origin are the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority, according to census data.

a) True
b) False

Answers: 1) a. 2) a. 3) d. 4) b. 5) a.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Delivering the news

Laptop displaying postal news

The Postal Service has introduced an online news hub to help employees and customers learn more about the organization and Delivering for America, its 10-year plan to achieve financial sustainability.

Newsroom, part of usps.com, features three new resources:

• “Mailin’ It!,” a podcast that will cover a variety of topics, such as the importance of ZIP Codes; Informed Delivery; and preparations for this year’s peak season. A new episode will be released every other week.

• The Eagle, a quarterly magazine about the Postal Service’s business. A print version will be mailed to employees’ homes.

• Postal Posts, a rejuvenated version of the organization’s corporate blog.

Together, these resources will provide employees and customers with context about the Postal Service’s efforts to change and improve while helping the organization strengthen its brand.

Newsroom will continue to feature the Postal Service’s latest news releases and media statements.

In addition to the new hub, USPS produces Link, an award-winning daily news website for employees; Postal Bulletin, an every-other-week publication that focuses on policies and procedures; quarterly Update newsletters that are mailed to employees’ homes; and several newsletters published at the local level.