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 stating that the review was an important element in the endeavour to ensure a modern and attractive compensation package for UN system staff. She highlighted the CEB Statement issued in November 2015, based on the recommendations of HLCM, which welcomed the overall direction and conclusions of the review while highlighting few areas that might have benefitted from further improvements, such as the consideration of single parents and modern family concepts as well as the support for highly mobile staff in field locations. She thanked the ICSC and its leadership for the continued support and collaboration on the matter, the HLCM Chair, the HLCM Strategic group, the Director of the CEB Secretariat as well as the CEB Secretariat for the support.

Discussion

The Vice-Chair noted that the General Assembly had set very ambitious timelines for the implementation of its decisions. She also drew the attention to the upcoming second phase of the Comprehensive Compensation Review, which was focussing on locally recruited staff and on the use of staff categories in the UN System.

The Vice-Chair of ICSC highlighted that the 5th Committee had discussed the ICSC proposed new package in detail, despite its heavy agenda and workload in the fall of 2015. The proposals initiated by HLCM found support by Staff Federations and Member States, and were subsequently approved with the introduction of a single parents’ allowance and adjustments to the mobility incentive and to Accelerated Home Leave provisions. He also highlighted that the General Assembly decided to maintain the ASG / USG salaries at the present levels, and also recommended that organizations implement the mandatory age of separation at age 65 for existing staff no later than 1 January 2018.

The ICSC Vice-Chair expressed his view that the result of the tripartite work was successful, and encouraged organizations to use the discussions on implementation of the decisions to enhance common HR practices. The ICSC will report to the General Assembly on a general implementation status in the fall of 2016, and provide an overall assessment after 3 years of full implementation of the new package.

During the next phase of the review, the ICSC will examine the use of other staff categories, namely General Service, Field Service and National Professional Officer categories. The ICSC Vice-Chair transmitted the expectation of the Commission that UN Common System organizations clearly articulate their needs, requirements and suggestions on the topic. In this context, he appreciated the discussion paper presented by the HR Network under agenda item A2 and suggested it should be made available to Commission members. He concluded by thanking the HLCM Chair and Strategic Group members for their contributions and looked forward to continued cooperation of the ICSC with organizations and staff in the next phase of the review.

The Co-Chair of the HR Network confirmed that the overall outcome of the review was positive, expressing appreciation for the positive consideration of HLCM’s suggestions during the General Assembly deliberations. She encouraged a monitoring of the overall impact of the new compensation scheme, in particular with regard to mobility of senior staff in hardship duty stations. She stressed that an important success factor was the high level of collaboration among organizations and the willingness to arrive at joint proposals and positions despite the variety of mandates and operating models. This approach should be extended to the next phase of the review, the outcome of which would determine the organizations’ future agility in staffing with rapid expansion and reduction of presence depending on operational needs. In general, organizations were looking for a flexible toolkit to address programmatic and operational challenges. The discussions about the future role of National Professional Officers may also have significant implications on the ability of organizations to deliver against the Sustainable Development Goals, through enhanced development partnerships and joint service centres. She informed HLCM that the HR Network would further discuss future requirements and suggestions at a dedicated workshop on 26/27 April in Vienna.

With regard to the implementation of the General Assembly decisions on the new Compensation scheme for internationally recruited staff, the Co-Chair highlighted the substantial level of coordination and collaboration currently in place among Common System organizations, and the commitment of administrations to implement the decisions according to the requests of the General Assembly. She pointed out that the timeline as set by the General Assembly was ambitious, in particular given the specific governance context in Specialized Agencies. Much would also depend on the readiness of the required ERP adjustments to be made by third party providers.

In the subsequent discussion, several organizations concurred with a positive assessment of the review outcome. They also highlighted the challenge to complete ERP adjustments within the timeframe set by the General Assembly and the additional cost associated with it, and made reference to the limitations inherent in the calendar of Governing Body sessions in some organizations. The appreciation of enhanced collaboration among organizations with regard to joint adjustment of ERP systems was expressed.

Organizations welcomed the planned review of the use of staff categories, in particular of National Professional Officers, which had to be seen in a context of an increasingly regional character of development tasks and the need for enhanced implementation partnerships. A number of organizations showed appreciation for the high level of collaboration in the HR Network and HLCM, requesting that this collaboration should be extended to the second phase of the review. During the discussion the issue, of lack of stipends and remuneration for interns in some organizations was raised, which was judged not to be conducive to positive employer branding of the UN system and to geographic and social diversity in this group.

Staff Federations expressed their overall appreciation of the outcome of the review, noting that the impact of changes to field-related allowances should be monitored. They expressed the interest of Staff Representatives to work closely and constructively with ICSC and organizations in the next phase of the review and in broader discussions on the implications of the 2030 Agenda on HR and Workforce Management.

In summarizing, the HLCM Vice-Chair thanked again the ICSC leadership and the HLCM Strategic Group, proposing that this working arrangement should be continued in the second phase of the review. While the HR Network was in the lead on the matter, the Finance & Budget Network would also need to contribute with specific input. She highlighted that the upcoming second phase of the review will be important, as it would directly determine the ability of organizations to meet expectations as formulated in the 2030 Agenda.

Action

The Committee:
Took note with appreciation of the briefing by the HR Network.

Thanked the ICSC Leadership for its constructive role in guiding the General Assembly deliberations taking into account organizations’ requirements as outlined in the CEB Statement of November 2015.

Supported the second phase of the review in the same consultative manner, confirming the commitment of HLCM to actively engage in the discussion.

Expressed its expectation that the outcome of this new review will lead to adequate, flexible tools that allow organizations to respond in an agile and cost-effective way to their specific challenges in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.