30 September 2015 - 2 comments »
Today we have taken a significant step in improving our Office’s transparency with the publishing of our Service Regulations. These are the rules that govern the conditions of employment for all EPO staff and which ensure the smooth and efficient functioning of our office by providing staff with a framework of rules that clearly define and govern working practices. To safeguard the sound functioning of our office, and as an international organisation set up under the European Patent Convention, our Service Regulations have been amended over time by the EPO’s member states to define the terms of employment particular to the EPO.
Along with other relevant information on matters such as the prevention of fraud, they have been made available to all online in the spirit of openness and to ensure a high level of transparency. These publicly available regulations offer the opportunity to any interested parties to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of working life in the EPO – from recruitment to retirement, and including staff rights and obligations, the career system, remuneration and benefits. The Service Regulations also attest to the principle of strict legality of all processes within the EPO and that ultimately protects the rights of our staff. They are also of paramount importance for our employees given that they may differ from corresponding national provisions in those member states where the Office maintains places of employment. But no matter what the place of employment, it is these Service Regulations that provide the necessary clarity and security for all EPO staff.
The decision to publish the regulations is the latest in a series of measures that the EPO has taken to ensure maximum transparency since I was elected to office. In addition to the Service regulations, we also provide an annual Social Report which enables us to understand how some of these rules affect the daily working life of employees. Now in its third edition, the report gives useful facts and figures on our staff and changing trends in employment in our office. It offers a full overview of the office staff, such as the number of personnel in each function, how much training they undertake, and remuneration and social security entitlements, among many other useful indicators.
But it is not just working conditions where we have placed an emphasis on transparency. The EPO is a vast and complex machine and, with that in mind, we have also taken measures to increase the public’s understanding of its governance. In November 2012 we made available the documents of the Administrative Council in order to increase transparency of discussions between the EPO’s member states.
Moreover, the EPO is in the business of delivering patents and, in addition to the measures above, we provide a wide variety of information designed to enhance transparency of the very processes we use to deliver those world class products. From our quality management policy, which details how we produce robust patents, to the latest news on developments at the EPO, we provide a comprehensive view of our day to day work. For those that want to find out about the patents themselves, the EPO has been providing free information to the public through specialised search tools, such as Espacenet and Patent Translate, to ensure that the actual process of granting patents themselves is fully transparent.
I have also placed an emphasis on increasing transparency on the EPO of the future, and not just of the present. The EPO, like many others, is an organisation that is permanently evolving in order to face the challenges of the international patent system. It is for this reason that we regularly invite consultation from stakeholders so they can voice their opinion on measures that we are considering taking and, once those consultations are made public, can see the input of others.
Ultimately, we are striving to ensure that in all areas of organisation, be it the working conditions, the granting of patents or the changes occurring in our office, we are providing a plethora of information for those that wish to gain an accurate and comprehensive view of the EPO.