Background

This thematic session was devoted to provide the Committee with an in-depth overview of the most critical issues that had been recently object of decisions/recommendations by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), as well as of important issues under current review. The aim was to highlight issues that have considerable actual or potential impact on the conditions of service of UN system staff, to increase their understanding and awareness among HLCM members, with a view to raise their profile within organizations during or in advance of their discussion in the HR Network, in the Commission and in the respective governing bodies.

The overview proposed by the ASG for Human Resources Management and by the HR Network covered the following subjects: Job Classification System; Harmonization of Conditions of Service in Non-Family Duty Stations; Education Grant:  review of the level and of the methodology; Inter-agency mobility; and, Mobility and Hardship - review of the scheme.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, several organizations expressed their concern regarding the impact of the ICSC decision on the harmonization of conditions of service in non-family duty stations, and the negative effect it may have on the abilities of agencies to recruit and retain staff in these difficult duty stations. In this respect, it was underlined that, although there are merits to harmonization of approaches, these should be always evaluated as means towards the objectives that organizations’ mandates require them to pursue.

Appreciation was also expressed to the Commission for developing a framework and a methodology, whose application would result, if approved by the General Assembly, in important benefits for a considerably large number of UN staff.

On this subject, the Commission’s Vice-Chairman conveyed that there was great sympathy for staff serving in these difficult duty stations and that the discussions had not been easy. However, the objective of the Commission was to present a proposal that would be favourably considered by the General Assembly. The Vice-Chairman also indicated that the first step would be to harmonize the designation of duty stations, and that the proposals on Rest & Recuperation would also provide additional benefits.  Regarding the review of the Education Grant methodology, the Vice-Chairman assured that the HR Network would be consulted and involved in some capacity.

Action

The Committee:

While expressing appreciation to the ICSC for developing a framework and a methodology to determine conditions of service in non-family duty stations, noted the concerns of a number of agencies, as also expressed by the staff associations, regarding negative impact of the ICSC decision on the harmonization of such conditions of service on frontline humanitarian operations and on staff.

Noting that one of the barriers to inter-agency mobility is the lack of implementation by a number of organizations of the “Inter-Agency Mobility Accord” approved by HLCM and CEB in 2005, urged the Legal Network to provide a final and consolidated proposal, agreed by all legal offices of member organizations, for revisions to the “Inter-Agency Mobility Accord”. The proposal should be finalized in time for submission and review by HLCM at its spring 2011 session.

Welcomed the new Job Classification system for the General Service category as a positive step towards harmonization.

Urged the ICSC to include organizations in the review of the methodology of the Education Grant as they have extensive experience in using the existing methodology. The Committee also noted that financial considerations should not be driving the review of the Education Grant and other entitlements.

Requested the HR Network for an overview of all issues under consideration by the ICSC, with implications and next steps, in order to determine when the HLCM needs to be engaged.