Background

The HLCM Vice-Chair opened the discussion on the ICSC review of the UN System Compensation Package by highlighting the linkages between the review and the organizational change objectives set in the HLCM Strategic Plan.

Discussion

The Co-Chair of the HR Network provided an update on the progress of the ICSC review, noting that the review process was in its final phase. A last working group meeting with agencies, staff associations and the ICSC will be held in May 2015 to discuss transition measures, the financial scenarios and the overall impact of the new package. The new compensation package is expected to be presented to the General Assembly in the fall of 2015, for consideration and decision. The Co-Chair noted that some of the key elements of the proposed package would likely be finalized during the 80th session of the ICSC – after that, the implications for HR operations and the financial impact would become clearer.

The HR Network Co-Chair underlined the importance for appropriate measures in the new package to underpin mobility initiatives currently being implemented in many organizations, as well as to support service in hardship duty stations. She also highlighted that devising adequate solutions to support single parents is essential in a highly mobile work environment, and she stressed the need to focus on transition management and communication.

The Vice-Chairman of the ICSC was invited to provide HLCM with an update on the Review from the point of view of the Commission. He noted that there are a just few outstanding elements in the Review that need to be addressed, but he was confident these will be solved before the 81st ICSC session in Vienna. He mentioned that the ICSC was giving due consideration to the issues of acquired rights of staff members and to transitional measures, which a number of organizations had raised concerns about. The Vice-Chairman concluded by noting that the ICSC will commence the review of the compensation package of the General Service Staff and National Officers after finalizing the current review for Professional Staff later this year.

Recalling the original intention for the ICSC review to result in a modernized and simplified compensation package that supports strategic organizational change, several participants expressed concerns in light of the progress report. They highlighted the importance for the new package not to pose obstacles to the introduction of managed or voluntary mobility schemes in organizations, and the need to adequately incentivise service in the most difficult duty stations. A number of participants – while appreciating the value of consistent management of core entitlements - reiterated the need for flexible instruments in recruitment, retention and relocation cases that cannot be adequately handled within the existing frameworks. Members also discussed the possible need for United Nations system organizations to take coordinated action on elements that are not part of the final reformed package. The Committee asked the HR Network to reinforce these points with the ICSC as the review continues.

The Committee noted the potential repercussions that the forthcoming change in the mandatory age of separation (MAS) for existing staff to age 65 may have on institutional initiatives to achieve gender equality and geographic distribution. In order to inform the Committee’s future deliberations on the subject, the CEB Secretariat was requested to collect data on the gender and geographic composition of the population that would be subject to extension.

Citing the impact on budgetary predictability, workforce and succession planning, several speakers expressed the need to implement a new mandatory age of separation in line with the respective budget cycles of organizations. Many HLCM members also highlighted that MAS changes would in many cases be subject to approval by the relevant Governing Bodies, which will need to be consulted on possible implementation dates and modalities, as stipulated in the respective Staff Rules & Regulations.

Action

The Commitee:

  • Took note of the progress update of the Review of the UN Compensation Package and expressed appreciation for the work done by the HR Network.
  • Re-affirmed its full support and commitment for a compensation system that supports the organizational change agenda set out in the HLCM Strategic Plan and is informed by the principles outlined in the CEB Statement on the ICSC review, particularly on attracting and retaining talent and strengthening the UN system’s international expatriate workforce.
  • Confirmed its support for a compensation system that incentivizes mobility of staff in difficult duty stations and supports diversity in the workforce.
  • Emphasized the importance of simplification of business processes in the implementation of the forthcoming new compensation package.
  • Reiterated the importance of including a flexible element in the re-designed package, to allow organizations to use their discretion in dealing with exceptional situations where it is difficult to attract and retain competent staff.
  • Took note of the need of adequate transitional measures towards a new compensation package and an appropriate communication strategy that would involve all stakeholders.
  • Requested the ICSC Secretariat to coordinate with the CEB Secretariat in order to ensure that all organizations are systematically consulted and their diverse operational needs are duly and fully reflected in the proposal that will be developed regarding the MAS65 implementation date.
  • Requested the CEB Secretariat to review the possible implications of implementing MAS65 on organizations’ gender balance and the diversity of their workforce.
  • Requested the HR Network, as the primary interlocutor with staff, to consider the proposal by FICSA on cost-sharing of its elected officials at its July 2015 session. Subsequent to the review by the HR Network, the Finance and Budget Network should analyse the proposal from the financial perspective. Both Networks would then submit their views for discussion by the Committee at its October 2015 session.
  • Requested the HR Network to collect data from each member organization on resourcing and funding of staff associations, and to present its findings to the Committee.