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Giving and receiving

Reminder offered on holiday gift exchanges

USPS wants employees to understand the rules for gift exchanges in the workplace.

The Postal Service is reminding employees to proceed with caution when exchanging gifts.

Generally, an employee shouldn’t give a gift to a manager or higher-paid colleague. Likewise, a gift shouldn’t be accepted from a subordinate or lower-paid employee.

There are exceptions. For example, a non-cash gift worth $10 or less to a manager on birthdays, holidays or similar occasions is OK.

Holiday gift exchanges — including “white elephant” exchanges in which amusing or impractical presents are exchanged — are also OK, as long as employees participate voluntarily and give non-cash gifts worth $10 or less.

Another exception is a gift to a manager on a special occasion, such as a marriage, birth, adoption, retirement or resignation. This gift could be cash; there is no monetary limit on the gift, but the gift must be customary to the occasion.

These rules help to avoid complaints of favoritism or harassment while creating cohesive, productive workplaces.

The Ethics Blue page has additional guidance, including a presentation on holiday gift exchanges.

If you have questions, email the Ethics Office at

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