Patent Office adopts employee-friendly initiatives

tballard@govexec.com

Patent and Trademark Office employees can now wear casual clothes every day, make their own business cards at work, and get $65 in monthly mass transit subsidies.

And starting Oct. 22, PTO employees will be able to work their required 80 hours in less than 10 full workdays.

These new quality of work life improvements, known as "Day Two" initiatives, are continuing efforts on the agency's part to become more employee-friendly.

Earlier this year, Day One initiatives were implemented by the agency with the consent of the agency's three labor unions. As a result, employees are no longer required to fill out sign-in sheets.

In July 1994 and June 1996, President Clinton urged agencies to establish programs to make it easier for federal workers to balance their home and work lives. The 13 family-friendly arrangements available to employees include:

  • Family and medical leave
  • Sick leave for family care
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Leave transfer
  • Part-time employment
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Referral services for child and elder care
  • Compressed work schedules
  • Telecommuting
  • Fare subsidies
  • Job sharing
  • Child care centers
  • Leave banks
Earlier this year, Congress expressed concern that agencies weren't implementing the family-friendly workplace initiatives, and a study released in September by the Office of Personnel Management found that family-friendly programs were slow to take root.

Six months ago, PTO became a government corporation. As a result, the agency has more control over its human resources systems that traditional agencies.

"I believe the Day Two initiatives will help make PTO an even better place to work, while still allowing us to meet the needs of our customers," said agency director Q. Todd Dickinson.

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