Emergency Paid Leave (EPL)
EPL for COVID-related absences was announced agency-wide on June 2, 2021, including eligibility information and how to apply. EPL is more restrictive than EADC leave so please make sure to familiarize yourself with the eligibility, pay cap, and documentation requirements. The information is posted here. There leave is available until September 30, 2021 or when funds run out, whatever is earlier. Continue to send questions about EPL to the email@example.com mailbox.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) vaccine incentive
BCBS is offering their participants $50 for expenses such as co-pays for providing proof of COVID vaccination. If you are a BCBS plan member and receive at least your first dose by July 4, 2021, you are probably eligible for the incentive. See their website (www.fepblue.com) for more information on how to claim this incentive (you will need to log in to your MyBlue.)
POPA has reported to management the numerous issues with TEAMS:
- unreliability of the presence indicator
- inability for an unanswered call made
- sharing your screen (see below)
If you want to share your screen via MS Teams, then you cannot use the phone through Cisco UC. If screen sharing is needed or wanted, then you should setup a WebEx and share your screen through WebEx. If MS Teams is preferred, then you can go through the chat feature of MS Teams (see screenshot below) and press either the video camera icon (shreenshot: left icon inside red circle) at the top right of the chat window of the intended person for video call or simply press the telephone (screenshot: right icon inside red circle) for a phone call then press the share icon (screenshot: blue underline) that has a box with tan arrow inside of it to share your screen during MS Teams video or phone call. There is currently no way to use Cisco UC for phone calls and share your screen.
Discussions on updated telework agreements for areas under the Commissioner of Patents are nearing completion. Other areas in the POPA bargaining unit are also being discussed. We anticipate updated telework agreements in place for the whole POPA bargaining unit prior to phase 3 reopening.
USPTO continues to be in phase 1 of reopening. While the Office continues to plan for phase 2 and phase 3 reopening, no dates have been set and maximum telework continues.
Track 1 Update
POPA and management have an agreement to limit the number of Track 1 cases an examiner will receive to 6 per year even though the Office is raising the total number of cases available for Track 1 status. Examiners can request more than the 6 per year limit from their SPE.
Reminder for POPA Gainsharing and SAA awards
Examining-related hours, such as training junior examiners, can be added to the base examining hours required for the full awards (full award at 1400 hours, pro-rated awards starting at 700 hours). If you have been taking EADC or EPL, you may not meet the 1400 hours for the full award. The total number of hours for the awards should be calculated automatically now using time codes. Discuss with your supervisor if you have any questions.
Due to the lateness of the guidance for the holiday, some employees may not have received complete compensation for the holiday due to they pay cap (not paid for at least 8 hours of holiday) or have circumstances such as not getting cases reviewed at the end of an LCA period or missing out on a DM award because of production not counted. If you fall into any of these categories or have another issue related to the holiday, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "holiday" and let us know what your issue is.