Background

 

The HLCM Vice-Chair opened the discussion on the outcome of the International Civil Service Commission’s review of the United Nations system compensation package by thanking the ICSC and its Secretariat for the work carried out over the last two years on this challenging, important and complex endeavour.

Discussion

 

The HLCM Vice-Chair opened the discussion on the outcome of the International Civil Service Commission’s review of the United Nations system compensation package by thanking the ICSC and its Secretariat for the work carried out over the last two years on this challenging, important and complex endeavour.

The Vice-Chair of ICSC highlighted that the scope of the present review had been far beyond any prior review. He highlighted that the assessment criteria used by ICSC and the CEB were largely identical, and also confirmed that the review process had been largely inclusive, taking into account views of organisations and staff federations. He provided additional information on various details of the review, stating that the proposal should be seen as one new package that, in his view, was better fit for purpose than the current one. Due to the fast rate of change and new developments in the environment the UN system operates in, he confirmed that it will be an ongoing task of the ICSC to periodically review and adjust individual compensation elements, as needed.

The HLCM Vice-Chair highlighted the engagement of the HR Network and the HLCM Strategic Group on the Compensation Review, which had met in preparation of the present HLCM to assess the review outcome along the criteria established by CEB. She acknowledged general satisfaction with the direction of the review, highlighting efforts for simplification and streamlining in areas such as the new salary scale and the Education Grant provisions. She also noted three areas of concern to organizations, namely the cumulative impact of the proposed changes on staff serving in hardship duty stations, the risk of a potentially adverse impact on mobility initiatives in organizations, and the impact on single parents, which had a disproportionate effect on female staff. In those areas, some adjustments would be welcomed.

The Co-Chair of the HLCM HR Network confirmed that the overall outcome of the review was a positive one, pointing towards more modernization and simplification as well as potential cost containment. She underlined the diversity of mandates and operational models of the CEB organizations, stressing that the degree to which organizations have concerns with certain aspects of the review emanate from the variety of requirements for a common system package. She also stressed that issues such as the impact on single parents and women were highly symbolic for the UN as an employer.

Several participants highlighted their general support for the overall direction of the ICSC proposal, confirming the three areas of concern about the impact on single parents, staff in hardship duty stations and the general impact on mobility. They stressed the need for strategic alignment between key operational necessities and the related features of a new compensation package, in particular for organizations that are about to embark in managed mobility programmes. It was also underlined that service in difficult hardship duty stations requires the regular provision of possibilities to leave these environments as a preventive measure for health and psychosocial care. In this regard, the representative of the Medical Directors Working Group highlighted the potential adverse effect of reductions in health-related benefits and pointed to a potential increase of long-term organizational liabilities through extended sick leave and disability. Representatives from Staff Federations also noted the negative cumulative effects of the proposed package on staff in field duty stations and on single parents.

Some organizations highlighted the need for further clarity on the approach and timeline for implementation of the proposed compensation package, noting that such implementation will incur additional cost, and the proposed savings will not be immediate. One organization inquired about the decompression of the proposed salary scale, noting some concerns about equitable treatment of staff in the review process. ICSC clarified that the design of the new salary scale addressed inequalities in the current scale with regard to the margin (which was historically significantly higher at lower grades), the span of the different grades (which was much higher at the lower grades), and the relative differences between the single and dependency rates of pay at different grades (which were lower at lower grades). The proposed scale was therefore the most balanced and equitable solution to address these aspects, and it was much more aligned with the Comparator. It was also noted that the proposed new package was the result of a delicate balance between the positions of different constituencies, and the decision on how to take it forward was now with the Member States.

Organizations took note of the recommendation of the ICSC to increase the Mandatory Age of Separation for existing staff to 65 by 1 January 2017. They highlighted that the overwhelming majority of Executive Heads had, during the consultations, indicated an operational preference for implementing such a change in line with the regular budgetary cycles, i.e. not before 1 January 2018.

Action

 

 

The Committee:

  • Took note of the outcome of the Review of the UN Compensation Package submitted by ICSC to the General Assembly.
  • Thanked the HR Network for its active engagement and collaboration with ICSC in this exercise.
  • Highlighted the importance of the new Compensation Package as a key enabler for organizations’ effective response to the mandates set out in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
  • Welcomed the recommendations of the Compensation Review that achieve streamlining, simplification, transparency and cost efficiencies.
  • Emphasized three areas where the proposed package could be further improved, i.e.: service in difficult field duty stations; geographic mobility of UN system staff; and, single parents and modern family concepts.
  • Decided to submit a draft CEB statement on the outcome of the ICSC Review for the Board’s adoption.
  • Took note of the recommendation from the vast majority of organizations to implement the new Mandatory Age of Separation for existing staff not before 1 January 2018, and subject to endorsement by the respective Governing Bodies.