Outside employment

A federal ethics document for USPS employees was revised recently for the first time since its introduction in 1995. The revisions took effect Sept. 7.

Many guidelines in the Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the United States Postal Service address outside employment and business activities.

Some rules have been eased. Employees may now:

• Work with a manufacturer of postal uniforms or other postal-related products, and

• Transport mail under USPS contracts within the same delivery area.

However, prior approval from the USPS Ethics and Legal Compliance team may be required.

Some rules have not changed. Employees may not:

• Consult on postal operations with any person who has competed or will compete for a USPS contract;

• Do business with any registered commercial receiving agency or company that delivers mailable matter, such as Amazon, FedEx or UPS;

• Engage in sales activities, charitable fundraising or for-profit business activities while on duty, in uniform or at postal facilities;

• Act as an agent for a contractor or anyone offering to become a contractor.

• Have an interest in any contract for carrying the mail. (Employees may not own a Highway Contract Route, or HCR, but may seek approval to work for an HCR contractor.)

In addition, prior approval is now required for employment with a subsidiary of a company that delivers mailable matter, even when the subsidiary does not participate in these activities. For example, employees must seek permission before they can take a second job with Amazon subsidiaries such as Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh.

Employees should email the Ethics team at ethics.help@usps.gov with questions.

Health care ABCs

Many people are confused by health insurance terminology. To help USPS employees navigate their way through this year’s open season benefits enrollment period, here are some important definitions:

Copayment: This is a fixed amount paid for certain covered health care services.

Coinsurance: This is similar to a copayment but refers to a percentage paid for some covered health care services rather than a fixed amount paid.

Deductible: This is the amount someone pays for covered health care services before their health plan starts to pay. You can find the amount, and how much you’ve paid toward it, through your health insurance plan’s web portal.

Flexible spending account: This is an account set up to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses on a pretax basis. There are also flexible spending accounts designed specifically for dependent care.

High-deductible health plan: This is a plan with a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan, but usually with lower monthly premiums. It often has an accompanying health savings account.

Preventive services: This describes routine health care that includes screenings, patient counseling and vaccinations, such as flu shots. Preventive services are covered at 100 percent under your health plan if you go to an in-network provider.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has additional information to help you better understand your plan options, including a link to a comparison tool from Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

Open season runs through Dec. 11.