Background

The HLCM Vice-Chair opened this discussion welcoming the ICSC Vice-Chair and emphasizing that the Review of the UN Compensation Package is a subject of utmost importance to the organizations, as its outcome will significantly impact their ability to successfully deliver against their respective mandates in the future. For this reason, the active collaboration of organizations with ICSC on this subject figures prominently among the objectives of the HLCM Strategic Plan 2013-2016.

The HLCM Vice-Chair informed the Committee of the establishment of the HLCM Steering Group called for by the Committee at its 25th to provide strategic guidance and support throughout the Review. The Steering Group is chaired by the HLCM Vice-Chair and is composed of the ASG for HR Management of the UN Secretariat and of HLCM representatives from UNDP, UNHCR, WIPO and IFAD. Respecting the criteria of a balanced representation of all HLCM constituencies and of keeping the number of members as limited as possible, the Group would be open to other interested organizations.
 
The Vice-Chair of ICSC briefed HLCM on the progress of the Compensation Review. He stated his appreciation for the active involvement of HLCM and the HR Network in the process, confirming that such an active involvement would be instrumental to a successful outcome. He outlined the next steps of the Review, including a staff survey planned for October, and interviews by the ICSC Chair and Vice-Chair with Executive Heads at the main duty stations. The interviews would be conducted based on a standardized set of questions and with the support of an external consultant to compile an aggregated report of the visits.  Both activities would serve as preparation for the first working group meeting, planned for early December and aimed at laying the groundwork in identifying strengths and weaknesses of the present system and mapping out the next steps of the Review.

The Co-Chair of the HR Network briefed the HLCM on the HR Directors’ retreat held in Copenhagen in September. He explained that the purpose of that meeting was to clarify three questions: Why do we welcome the Review efforts? What do organisations want to get out of the Review? How do we want to collaborate as organizations? He explained that some common ground among organizations was already identified, while at the same time organizations were seeking some increased flexibility in the compensation system to accommodate their different mandates and needs, to remain attractive while containing costs where necessary. The substantive discussion among organizations would continue and organizations were keen to actively engage in the Review process, including through institutionalized mechanisms. In this respect, the HR Network Co-Chair regretted the abolishment of the Steering Committee composed of ICSC, organizations and Staff Federations that had been active until the July session.

Discussion

The Staff Federations stressed the need for the Review to be inclusive and requested the establishment of adequate bridging mechanisms among the CEB secretariat, HLCM and the Working Groups. They too expressed their regret for the abolishment of the Steering Committee, which represented a valuable instrument for continuous coordination among all involved stakeholders.

In the subsequent discussions, representatives of organizations expressed their full support for the Review.  Some highlighted the challenges in complying with the recent ICSC’s requests for data, both in terms of additional workload and data availability. Strong support for maintaining and strengthening the UN Common System was expressed, as well as for the need to ensure more flexibility for organizations to adapt their compensation strategies to the different and evolving mandates and the variety of labour markets.

Organizations emphasised the need to ensure continued attractiveness of the UN Common System as an employer, in particular in hardship duty stations. Some members expressed the need to create a dedicated working group to design specific measures improving conditions of service and gender and geographic diversity in D and E duty stations, in line with the HLCM Strategic Plan.

Participants suggested that the HR Network should seek support from the Finance and Budget Network to ensure an accurate financial evaluation of proposals put forward.  A number of interventions stressed the need to find a balance between the importance of attracting and retaining highly qualified and motivated staff for effective programmatic delivery, and the financial constraints a number of organizations are facing.  

The ICSC Vice-Chair indicated his agreement to the requests for a steering mechanism to collectively and inclusively guide the work of the Review. He expressed his confidence that such view would be shared by other members of the ICSC at the next session in March 2014.

Action

The committee:

  • Welcomed the ICSC Compensation Review and expressed full commitment of the organizations to an active participation in this exercise.
  • Approved for submission to CEB the HLCM Statement on the Compensation Review (as annexed to this report) outlining the organizations’ vision and expectations.
  • Approved the establishment of the HLCM Strategic Group on the Compensation Review and asked the Group to guide the development and formulation of common positions for the upcoming discussions and negotiations in the ICSC working groups.
  • Welcomed the launch of an external data collection exercise, led by the CEB Secretariat, with the objective of providing a solid data reference for the development of proposals in the course of the ICSC Review. This exercise would provide the evidence to benchmark the United Nations against comparable employer practices in regard to compensation. It would include high-level design considerations such as pay philosophy and labour market definitions, as well as specific elements of compensation and remuneration.
  • Agreed to formally express, in a letter from the HLCM Chair to the ICSC Chair, the interest and willingness of the organizations to be actively engaged in a fully inclusive process with the ICSC in the course of the entire Review, and to request the establishment of the appropriate institutional mechanisms to facilitate such involvement.