A postman/woman deals with the sorting and delivery of letters and small packets, working from a district sorting office. Depending on duties, they may also be responsible for mail collections from post boxes, post offices and places of work within that district.
Sorting the incoming and outgoing mail by hand is done indoors on a sorting frame. In a large sorting office, this could include working with automated mail-handling machinery such as integrated mail processors (IMPs).
Once sorted, the post is delivered to homes and businesses. Postmen and postwomen who deliver mail have a round or 'walk' covering several hundred addresses. For some items, such as registered post and recorded deliveries, they will have to obtain a signature.
Deliveries are made on foot, bicycle, or in a car or van.
Some postmen/women work in central sorting offices, dealing with mail coming in and going out across the country. The mail is sorted into mailbags then loaded onto vans and transported to district offices or, depending on the destination, a road freight depot, rail station or airport.
What's the working environment like working as a postman / woman?
Full-time postmen/women work a 41.5-hour week. There is a shift system. The early shift often starts at 5am or 6am and would involve preparing and delivering the mail. The later shift, starting between 1pm and 2pm, collects and sorts mail.
Saturday mornings are normally required and occasionally Sunday shifts are needed. Night-shift, part-time and seasonal work is widely available.
The delivery work is outdoors, at all times of the year and in all weathers. Lifting and carrying bags up to a maximum load of 16kg may be required.
A uniform including footwear is provided and there are subsidised meals in larger offices.
Note: There are currently major changes underway within the postal service affecting working hours, shift patterns, delivery schedules and pay. Please contact local offices (see Further Information) for details.
What does it take to become a postman / woman?
As a postman/woman, you need to be:
- Fit and active
- Reliable, honest and trustworthy
- Literate and numerate
- Able to deal with repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently
- Able to work to a delivery schedule
- Able to undertake clerical tasks such as re-directing mail
- Able to use a keyboard
- Confident and polite in dealing with the public
- Able to work alone or as part of a team
- Aware of health and safety issues.
Postman / woman career opportunities
Opportunities exist throughout the country and recruitment is normally done through the local sorting office. The large mail centres that sort and distribute mail also employ hundreds of people.
Promotion to higher grades, such as supervisor and manager is possible with experience.
There may be opportunities to move into similar areas of the business such as parcel deliveries, courier work, post office counter work, or customer care and administration within district or main offices.