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Patents Over Parents at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Europe’s second-largest institution does not treat parents fairly; this jeopardises the standards of labour rights across Europe’s as a whole

LAST night we posted some information about how parents — especially young parents — are being treated by Europe’s largest patent office (certainly no parent office). EPO autocrats like Benoît Battistelli (with his grown-up daughters) and his “Orange Man” think alike; EPO workers are just “spoiled”… after all, they do all the work. How dare they demand that their human rights be respected?

“The EPO’s management is in fact not seeing much of a future, judging by the plans to lay off staff and the squeezing of the goose for its golden egg.”Further to last night's post we’ve produced the video above, which explains why today’s EPO cannot attract talent and won’t manage to attract any (in the foreseeable future). The EPO’s management is in fact not seeing much of a future, judging by the plans to lay off staff and the squeezing of the goose for its golden egg.

Today’s EPO is self-destructive and it mostly serves monopolists that aren’t even European (they’re usually not law-abiding, either, but they have a grip on governments and patent offices). Here’s the document shown above, as text:

Staff Committee The Hague
Comité du personnel de La Haye
Personalausschuss Den Haag

10 February 2021

Childcare during the pandemic

Shared effort: request special leave for childcare and home-schooling

Dear Colleagues,

Your Staff Representation has been made aware that an overwhelming number of colleagues struggled to cope with trying to balance work and home schooling or caring for young children during the lockdowns caused by the pandemic.

These difficulties have been acknowledged by the President who announced the crediting of 10 extra parental leave days to all eligible parents1 at the beginning of 2021.

Extra parental leave alone is however not sufficient as it creates a financial gap which can prove unaffordable. For a number of staff, the only solution presently available is to take annual leave to care for their offspring, thus depleting their annual leave credit, or work when their caring responsibilities are over, both of the above leading to physical and mental exhaustion2.

Your Staff Representation hereby advises colleagues who need to combine their EPO duties with childcaring responsibilities during the pandemic to request special leave with a corresponding target adjustment for example according to the following pattern, which seems to be a common practice3, embraces the principle of duty of care and shows a genuine “shared effort” between the employee and the employer:
in the absence of schooling and day care facilities due to lockdown, quarantine or stricter rules relating to keeping children away from said establishments, a staff member taking half day of annual, parental or unpaid leave requests half day of special leave to make up a whole day dedicated to childcare or home-schooling.

Childcare centres and some schools have reopened but a third wave and lockdown are looming on the horizon. If they materialize, if your child(ren) is/are sent home because they or another pupil in the group have symptoms, or if they need to quarantine, please request leave according to the above distribution.

1 N.B: For the sake of consistency with the Codex, any supplementary parental leave should be given per child rather than per parent – this is to avoid that families where both parents work at the EPO receive double the amount compared to families where only one parent is an Office employee.
2 Research shows the increased risk of parental burnout and pandemic fatigue: Parental Burnout and Child Maltreatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic, A, K, Griffith, J. Fam. Violence, 2020.
3 See for example KPN giving 4 hours leave for every 4 hours taken by its employees for childcare: “Betaald verlof en docent aan huis: zo helpt de baas zijn werknemers”, RTL, NL. For other examples of common practice in the matter, see “Zusätzliche Kinderkrankentage für Eltern”, Bundesregierung, DE and “Can I be furloughed to look after my children?”, BBC, UK.

The reasons listed for requesting special leave in MyFips -> Teleworking, time and leave -> Special leave do not include “force majeure” or “childcare during the pandemic”4, which is why we advise sending the template below to HR and your manager to request that the corresponding special leave days be credited to your leave account and your yearly target adjusted.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones,

Your Staff Representation

4 It should be noted that the list of reasons for granting special leave in Article 59 and circular 22, rule 6 of the Codex is not exhaustive.


If anybody at the EPO has something to tell us and requires anonymity, stay tuned as we might implement document-dropping (or tip-dropping) software over Gemini protocol. It’s a little project.

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