We encourage you to rest and to recharge your batteries during the end-of-year days: this is not an opportunity to get work done! Please, as far as you can, switch off your devices, mute notifications and disconnect: take the time for you. Why not already schedule your out-of-the-office message in Outlook today? It’s one thing you can score off your end-of-year ‘to do’ list. We present a list of suggestions here in no particular order. Please feel free to get in touch to add to this list if you’d like to share what works for you!
Write down passwords in a safe place
A measure of how well you disconnected from work is how many passwords you’ve forgotten 🙂
Appraisal self evaluation
The first of the self-assessment exercises opens almost as soon as we return in January: the first general day of work is Tuesday 3 January but many buildings will be closed until 6 January. You don’t need to write the whole thing now, but making some basic notes of your highlights and successes might be a great help to you for when you have to hit the ground running on your return in order to make the best of this opportunity to shine. Generation 2004 has a conference on Tuesday 10 January to help you with this. Check out the advice for reporting officers on how they are to write the counterpart to your own text.
Teleworking from anywhere (TWA) days
While the 2021 days could be used up until 15.01.2022, we have received no such confirmation for the 2022 days. Unless this changes in the next couple of weeks, any unused 2022 TWA days you have on 31 December will be lost.
Please try to use up your full 10 days, even if you’re not 100% sure you’ll actually be outside your place of employment: HR states that the majority of staff do not use their full quota of 10 days, therefore there is no need for our suggested 60 days of TWA, the 10 days are more than sufficient for current needs. So, even if you can only use up 2 of those days in what remains of the year, please do so!
Remember you no longer need to join these days to any other type of leave and that you will have a new quota of 10 TWA days in 2023 (Decision on Working Time and Hybrid Working (WTHW), Article 11(1)).
Travelling with or without your corporate laptop?
We can find no obligation for you to travel with your corporate laptop when you are not on a work trip (‘mission’) or TWA (if you find anything, please contact us). We believe that it blurs the line between work and rest. While it was useful to have the laptop with you during the pandemic and its ever-changing Covid restrictions, ideally it would not ever be part of the ‘new normal’.
What if you are going sailing on your well-earned rest: will the Commission furnish you with a waterproof case for your laptop and a maritime-roaming dongle for network connectivity, just in case your input is needed?
‘Checking in’/checking email/responding in work chats while on leave
You cannot declare this work time (and it is work time) while on leave: sysper will not allow it. If you are being pressured to do check in then feel free to ask for the written rules detailing how such work is to be declared and compensated (or contact us and we can do it on your behalf, without mentioning you).
Travelling and health certificates
Check whether you have recent/up-to-date/unexpired Covid paperwork.
Building closures and TWA
We’ve repeatedly asked about this, but so far HR are insisting that, while you can telework 100% if your building is closed, it must be from your place of employment, no unofficial TWA. Note that many buildings are closed until Friday 6 January, though the first day of general work is Tuesday 3 January 2023.
Note that anyone ‘flying under the radar’ might have difficulties e.g. if they were to be sick: bills and certificates from another country might require additional explanations.
Building closures and working from another office
Under normal circumstances keyboards and mice are considered to be personal. Please check with your line manager where/how you are to store these devices in a temporary environment. For those of you with specific equipment e.g. a height-adjustable desk or specialist disability equipment, we invite you to include the diversity and inclusion (D&I) Office in your queries regarding reasonable accommodation. D&I is following up with the OIB/OIL on our question below:
With the temporary closure of buildings under Buildings Energy Saving Together (BEST) Action or ‘Save gas for a safe winter’ plan it is not clear what provision is made for those who have specialist equipment or disabilities: are they obliged to work from home 100% in order to have their needs met? HR states that height-adjustable desks are listed on the booking system is this sufficiently inclusive? (MyIntracomm: Events for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, comments)
More than 12 days of annual leave remaining
Up to a maximum of 12 are transferred automatically to the following year. For those of you with more than 12 days of annual leave left check out the viable reasons for requesting that these days be added to your 2023 quota.
If you have been sick for 20 work days or more (public holidays don’t count) you have the right to transfer all of your annual leave to 2023, so don’t miss out! It’s not a complicated process. Ms Ingestad agreed to work with DIGIT to evaluate our request to automate the transfer where it is a right 2022/23 but we have not yet been able to confirm their success. Please check for yourself: the ‘transfer’ button is normally visible in sysper in January .
If you have more than 12 days remaining for any other reason you can still request the transfer (but it is not guaranteed): please discuss with your line manager rather than just assume the days are lost. Even if you do not fall into one of the categories listed, a plan of when you will spend the days and a reason for having been unable to use them (e.g. workload) gives hierarchy the opportunity to be flexible and understanding if they so wish. Here are the public holidays for 2023 to facilitate your planning.
15 Percent of UK Employees Work on Holiday Through Fear of Falling Behind; Substantial Number of Bosses Think It’s Okay To Contact Employees on Holiday (Glassdoor, 2018)
This is a pre-pandemic source and here’s a recent one saying the same thing: this slide towards being always available is damaging and constant pressure is unsustainable long term). Note that the last available figures show that some 7 664 days of annual leave days were lost at the Commission and not carried-over from 2020 to 2021: this is far from ideal.
If you are sick during annual leave remember that if you act fast you can recover the days.
Time-credit-leave days expire based on when they were requested, they do not expire at the end of the calendar year. Under certain conditions, they can even be returned unused and the money returned.
Check the medical service website for information on Covid vaccines, boosters and the flu vaccine.
Check whether you’ve submitted all your requests for reimbursement: it’ll take a while to receive the money in your account and the sooner you submit the files, the better. You have 18 months from the date of the medical treatment to make your reimbursement claim.
PMO Mobile (it’s more of a website than an application /’app’ but yes, it works on your phone) is excellent for submitting claims for reimbursement, sickness certificates and accident declarations, all of which have time limitations.
Remember that if you receive the seasonal-flu vaccination via your own GP you have the right for 100% reimbursement of both the vaccine itself and the visit to the GP. There is a special option in the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme (JSIS)/RCAM [Régime Commun d’Assurance Maladie] online reimbursement site .
Similarly, if you did the annual medical laboratory tests outside the Commission you are also entitled to the full costs: check out our example case.
And if you have already submitted a reimbursement request and did not use the 100% options outlined, let the JSIS know via Staff Matters portal (by clicking the ‘Contact PMO’ little envelope in the top right-hand corner) and let our PMO colleagues fix it for you.
Home IT equipment
Many of us still have the option of requesting IT kit for home , why not use it while it’s available?
Family allowances, part-time and schools
Last but not least. Just to remind you that if you are a couple with a child/children and both of you work for the institutions and one of you is working part-time, check with your payment office who gets the family allowances during that part-time period. It might be that due to a part-time working arrangement (if the one working part-time is the one receiving the family allowances) that the family allowances decrease in line with the reduction in salary. It might be seen better, even if only temporary, to arrange for the allowances to go to the partner who woks full-time. Please ask the Office for the Administration and Payment of Individual Entitlements (PMO) first to check whether your particular circumstances make this possible before making any changes. Use PMO Contact for doing this.
If you like lists then you can check out our Summer edition for some more ideas on disconnecting.
As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.
 The button to click in Sysper2 (1-31 January):
Time management>leave rights>rights>Annual leave>Summary and click on the button ‘Leave carry-over request’: insert your comment to justify your request.
Note that the deadline for these requests is 31 January.
 The IT package contains any combination of these items:
- Screen (might have additional USB ports)
- keyboard (AZERTY, QWERTY or QWERTZ)
- mouse (even if one already came with the laptop)
- docking station (provides additional USB ports)
- Webcam (you can close your laptop)
- ergonomic chair (read about our colleague’s chair-building challenge).
REQUEST TYPE [choose] Install NON-STANDARD peripherals for a user
Misc. (specify) [write] ‘laptop locking cable’
Justification*: [write] ‘No locking cable was provided with laptop and I will need one for the office’