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Gift ethics

Whether giving or receiving, there are rules

Don’t use your USPS position to solicit or coerce gifts from customers or other outside sources.

The Postal Service is reminding employees of the rules when it comes to giving and receiving gifts.

Gifts between employees

Generally, a supervisor cannot accept a gift from a subordinate, but there are exceptions.

• For a regularly occurring event, such as a birthday: Gifts, other than cash, that have a value of $10 or less are permitted. Food and refreshments that are to be shared among employees are also allowed.

• For a special, infrequent occasion, such as a retirement, birth or marriage: Individual gifts can be given, without a monetary limit, as long as the gift is appropriate for the occasion. Group gifts are allowed if contributions are voluntary.

Contributions cannot exceed $10 per person, unless the contributor is in a superior position to the gift recipient. The collecting for a group gift must be done by the lowest-ranking employee.

There are no limits on gifts from supervisors to subordinate employees, but the gifts should be appropriate to the occasion and all supervised employees should receive similar gifts to avoid workplace environment issues.

Gifts from outside sources

Federal regulations prohibit postal employees from accepting gifts that are given to them because of their official positions.

A gift can be cash or anything of monetary value, such as tickets to events, meals, travel or discounts, among other things.

Employees cannot accept gifts from customers, anyone who does business with the Postal service (or seeks to do business), anyone who is regulated by the Postal Service or anyone whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance of an employee’s official duties.

Employees are allowed:

• To accept gifts that are based on a personal relationship and not motivated by the employee’s official position, where the gift is paid for personally by a family member or friend;

• To receive a noncash item worth $20 or less from an outside source, as long as the value of all gifts accepted by the employee from that outside source does not exceed $50 in a calendar year; and

• To avail themselves of opportunities and benefits that are available to the public or all federal employees.

Employees are not allowed:

• To accept gifts that are offered because of their official positions or given to influence them in the performance of an official act;

• To accept cash or a cash equivalent (such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express gift cards); and

• To use their postal positions to solicit or coerce gifts from an outside source.

Employees who have questions should call the ethics helpline at 202-268-6346 or send an email to

The Postal Service is observing Ethics Awareness Week from Aug. 16-22.