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More Evidence in "iLearn AI Day" (a Buzzwords Festival) That EPO Intends to Eliminate Staff and Deviate Further Away from Fairness, Law, and Constitutions (Including Its Own!)

posted by Roy Schestowitz on May 23, 2024

The case of formalities officers

The Central Staff Committee of the EPO has circulated a paper regarding Formality Officers - a subject we've covered here many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4].

Formality (or Formalities) Officers are sometimes known as FOs - related to JG5&6 - and the Central Staff Committee has introduced them succinctly as follows:

Dear Colleagues,

With no new recruits and ambitious plans for automation and AI on the horizon, formalities officers (FOs) find themselves facing an uncertain future within the EPO. Yet, amidst the uncertainty, FOs are demanding clarity and transparency from management regarding the future of their job.

A regular dialogue with Staff Representation under the scope of Working Group JG5&6 must be reactivated now.

The full paper from the Central Staff Committee is dated yesterday. We reproduce it as HTML, plain text, and GemText.

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel

Munich, 22.05.2024

Job Group 5 and 6
The case of formalities officers

With no new recruits and ambitious plans for automation and AI on the horizon, formalities officers (FOs) find themselves facing an uncertain future within the EPO. Yet, amidst the uncertainty, FOs are demanding clarity and transparency from management regarding the future of their job.

Recruitment stagnation sparks knowledge drain
Since 2019, an alarming ”recruitment trend” has emerged for formalities officers: there has been none. Moreover, there's an unsettling lack of clarity regarding any recruitment plans for 2025 and beyond. Should this trend persist, between 2018 and 2028, the number of FOs will have reduced by 44%.
The consequences are dire. Experienced colleagues leave, taking with them invaluable institutional knowledge without the possibility of knowledge transfer. Roles and responsibilities used to be clearly defined, fostering efficiency and productivity. The lack of recruitment and the resulting decreasing staffing level has led to constant shifts in priorities and disruptive changes. FOs find themselves in a perpetual state of 'fire brigading,' instead of operating within a stable framework. This is of course causing extra working pressure and stress to the colleagues.

Future of FOs work
The administration’s communication surrounding the evolution of FO work remains frustratingly vague. Hints about upskilling and handling exception cases offer little substantive insight into what lies ahead. There is no communication regarding the roadmap, timeline, and training plans, leaving FOs in the dark about their professional future.
During the 7th of March 2024, iLearn AI Day, the lack of information regarding FO training on the new AI platform raises concerns about the organisation's commitment to equipping FOs with the skills and tools necessary to thrive in an increasingly complex digital environment.

Future of FO team managers
The current trend is to reverse the 2018 reorganization and merge FO teams again. As a result, some FO teams are led by two (or more) team managers (TMs). This creates a stressful situation for both TMs and forces the teams to find once again a new balance. The TMs are not given any precise indication of how long the intermediate setup will last. It is unclear how many of the TMs will remain in their posts and what will happen to the ones who won’t be renewed.

Future of expert roles
It is unclear, whether the roles of former SCAPEs and LPSs change due to the development of automation. Exception handling will always remain as it cannot be automated. The administration must provide information regarding the evolution of the expert roles in terms of content and quantity.

Your future / NO future?
FOs deserve to be regularly informed and involved in matters related to their job. It is high time to inform FOs on how management plans to “leave nobody behind” while FO tasks are disappearing.

Will the tasks progressively be shifted to the examiners, this way increasing further their workload?

We are missing the so-called ”human centric approach” the administration purports.

The Staff Representation seeks to ensure that FOs are properly supported during this pivotal moment for their job category and that informed decisions are made. What FO colleagues need now is not just reassurance, but a concrete roadmap for the future and active support throughout the transition process.

A regular dialogue with Staff Representation under the scope of Working Group JG5&6 must be reactivated now.

The Central Staff Committee

The EPO's "roadmap" is merely some PR exercise, it's not a real, viable roadmap. As long as the EU ignores EPO corruption and habitually participates in the corruption (e.g. UPC) we'll just learn about more EPO corruption crossing over to the EU.

The EPO is a very potent danger to Europe's unity and the very concept of lawfulness. It exists to serve international monopolists and patent lawyers.

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