ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

273rd Session
Geneva, November 1998


Reports of the Officers of the Governing Body

Seventh report:
Child-care facilities in the ILO

1. The ILO Staff Union Committee has submitted to the Director-General, for consultation with the Officers of the Governing Body, a proposal for the creation of a crèche in the ILO. A summary of the proposal, as submitted to the Officers of the Governing Body, is appended.

2. The Officers of the Governing Body examined the proposal in detail, but were unable to make any unanimous recommendation to the Governing Body. The Officers therefore refer the proposal to the Governing Body for discussion.

Geneva, 10 November 1998.


Note for the Officers of the Governing Body

Creation of an ILO child-care facility (crèche)
Staff Union proposal

3. The Staff Union of the ILO has proposed a new project to create an ILO crèche (child-care facility) in the headquarters' building in Geneva. The Director-General believes this project should, in the first instance, be brought to the attention of the Officers of the Governing Body, given the discussions that have taken place in the past few years on this subject.(1) 

4. As this proposal, if approved, would be implemented in 1999 and would have financial implications, the Director-General believes that this matter should be considered by the Governing Body and the next Director-General. Ambassador Somavía, who has been consulted, agrees in principle with the proposals. He also agrees that the proposals be brought to the attention of the Officers at their November 1998 meeting.

5. The Staff Union's project has been reviewed by the Personnel and Finance Departments as well as by the Office of the Legal Adviser and the Bureau of Programming and Management. They have concluded that the proposal is solid, well documented and merits serious consideration.

6. In summary, the Staff Union proposes that an ILO crèche be opened in the headquarters' building in Geneva. The crèche would have a maximum capacity of 55 children and be used by children of ILO staff members and delegates to ILO meetings and conferences. The specifics of the proposals are contained in the appendix to this paper.

7. In order to fund the ILO crèche, the Staff Union is requesting a subsidy in kind and in cash from the ILO. The proposal would require a cash subsidy ranging from a minimum of $160,000 per biennium assuming an average occupancy rate of 90 per cent and fees of Sw.frs.1,300 per month per child to a maximum of $300,000 per biennium assuming an average occupancy rate of 80 per cent and fees of Sw.frs.1,250.

8. Should the Officers wish to bring this matter to the attention of the Governing Body, a paper could be submitted directly to the Governing Body at its present session or to its March session in the context of the Programme and Budget proposals for 2000-01. A specific proposal to use savings from Part I of the budget to cover initial start-up costs (estimated at $150,000 for renovations to the premises and equipment) and the first year's subsidy (ranging from $130,000 to $105,000 depending on the number (18 or 24) of children enrolled) would be made. An appropriate provision under major programme 290 (Other budgetary provisions) would then be included in the Programme and Budget Proposals for 2000-01.

Creation on an ILO child-care facility (crèche)
Staff Union proposal

Reasons and justifications for an ILO crèche

(As reviewed by the Staff Union Committee and the Personnel Department)

9. The number of spaces available in child-care facilities in the nearby Geneva area is very low. According to a report published in Le Temps on 23 March 1998, 40 per cent of the requests for places in child-care facilities are refused due to lack of capacity. Even though there are a number of crèches in the vicinity of the ILO building (a total of some five to six including both private and subsidized institutions), many staff members are unable to find places for their children. Almost all of these institutions have long waiting lists, sometimes as long as six months. This can be a major cause for concern for staff members returning to Geneva after field service. No existing child-care facility accepts children of delegates to meetings.

10. A child-care facility on the premises will enable the ILO to provide day-care services for a certain number of children of delegates to ILO meetings and conferences, thus removing one of the barriers to higher participation of women at such meetings. As can be seen from the two graphs contained in Annex I women's participation in ILO meetings and conferences remains very low.

11. The cost of child care in Geneva is very high. While prices are often determined as a fixed percentage of the salary of the parents, the cost of day care can range from,100 ($750) per month to Sw.Fr.1,875 ($1,450) per month depending on the facility attended.

12. The human resources policies of the ILO as endorsed by the Governing Body stress the importance of rejuvenating the staff, increasing women's representation in the Professional and higher category and mobility. All of these three policies will be furthered by the creation of an ILO crèche.

13. The creation of an ILO crèche will allow ILO officials to place their children in a reasonably priced child-care facility thus reducing their dependence on ad hoc arrangements with individuals. Due to language barriers and misunderstandings, ILO officials have sometimes mistakenly entered into ad hoc arrangements for child care.

14. Approximately 40-50 children are born to male and female ILO officials serving in Geneva every year. Of this number some 15-20 children are born to ILO female staff members serving in Geneva each year. A number of these staff members have been forced to reduce their working hours from full-time arrangements to part-time arrangements as a result of difficulties with finding adequate child care.

15. The mandatory school age of children in both Geneva and in France is set at 6 years of age. Children may, however, start to attend school as from 4 years of age in Geneva and sometimes as from 3 years of age in France depending on the township. Thus, there is a total population of some 200 children needing some kind of child-care arrangement. While obviously not all of these children will need a place in the ILO crèche as the officials have found other arrangements for child-care (such as "au pair" arrangements, family members or spouses which elect to stay home), the need of ILO staff members for pre-school care is large.

Summary of past experience with the Crèche des Nations

16. It may be recalled that in the past there was general agreement in the Governing Body and the International Labour Conference on providing a subsidy for child care for the benefit of ILO staff, as demonstrated by the inclusion of a provision in the ILO's Programme and Budget as from 1978 for the Crèche des Nations. In the Programme and Budget for 1994-95, the subsidy amounted to some Sw.frs.160,000 per biennium ($108,965). The Crèche des Nations was established in 1976 by international organizations located in Geneva as a non-profit welfare organization providing child care for some 100-150 children of international officials and representatives in the missions. The ILO was one of the three principle founder members. Due to the non-payment and lateness of contributions from the international organizations, the Crèche des Nations negotiated a merger arrangement with the City of Geneva, which took effect on 1 January 1982. Over the years, the City of Geneva took over an increasing part of the funding of the Crèche des Nations as the running costs increased and as the share paid by the organizations decreased. In 1992, the City of Geneva took over the Crèche des Nations and abolished the quota reserved for the children of international officials. Following debates in the Governing Body during 1994 and 1995 and the need to reduce the level of the ILO's budget, it was decided to remove the allocation for child care from the Programme and Budget for 1996-97.

17. The reasons for the failure of the Crèche des Nations were multiple. From the point of view of ILO parents, while they expressed satisfaction with the quality of care, the price was high and in the later years children of officials living in the Canton of Vaud and in France were not accepted. From an organizational perspective, none of the contributing organizations were made responsible for the financial well-being of the Crèche des Nations. While many organizations had indicated that they would contribute, many of the payments were never made or were late in arrival. In addition, there was never a quota set for the number of children accepted from the paying organizations.

ILO Staff Union's project

18. The project proposed by the ILO's Staff Union will satisfy all of the needs as outlined above.

Location of premises

19. It is proposed that the ILO crèche be located on R.1 north side of the building in what is currently the Staff Lounge area. Architectural plans have been made to adapt the space to meet the needs of a crèche. In accordance with an initial feasibility study, the cost of renovating the space which would be allocated for such a purpose, has been estimated to amount to some $100,000. Even if the final costs were to be in excess of this amount, the overall cost of the renovations might be covered within existing allocations as part of the work would be done by the ILO's Internal Administration services. It has been estimated that the time needed to complete the renovations would be three to four months. The maximum capacity of such a space would be 55 children.

Management of the crèche

20. While the crèche would be located in the ILO premises, it would be run and staffed by an independent non-profit institution or association and its employees would not be ILO officials. The day-to-day management and running of the crèche would be the responsibility of the director. An association board comprised of representatives from the ILO's administration, Staff Union and parents would supervise the director. The board will hire the director, set up the rules of the crèche (including the criteria for enrolment) in agreement with the director, act as contact with the ILO's administration and control the accounts. The director will be responsible for hiring qualified staff, maintaining costs within existing revenue and subsidies, reporting to the Board and relations with the parents.


21. According to Swiss law, the number of staff needed to supervise children in a crèche is dependent on the age of the children and the qualifications of the staff. To respect the ratio of staff to children, one child-care provider is needed for: four infants up to the age of 1 year; five children between 1-2 years of age; eight children between 2-3 years of age and ten children between 3-5 years of age. In addition, it is required that at least 50 per cent of the child-care providers must have formal child-care education.

22. The City of Geneva has concluded a collective agreement concerning salaries for child-care personnel, which the ILO will want to respect. The annual salary, including insurances and AVS, of a director amounts to some Sw.frs.100,000, a trained child-care provider amounts to some Sw.frs.76,000 and a non-trained child-care provider amounts to some Sw.frs.38,000. The Staff Union project proposes that a maximum number of 55 places would be available in the ILO crèche and that the crèche would accept children from the ages of three months to school age. The crèche would place the children into three to four groups based on age. The activities would be adjusted to suit the needs of the children within each of these groups. The crèche would be open between 8.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m., would be open 12 months a year with holidays corresponding to normal Geneva holidays or ILO closure and would provide child care for the children of delegates to ILO meetings or conferences.

Cost of the crèche and revenues

23. ILO staff members and delegates to ILO meetings will of course pay fees for the places in the crèche. The proposal made by the Staff Union has been calculated based on a series of different hypothesis ranging from an average price of Sw.frs.1,250 per month and 80 per cent capacity to an average price of Sw.frs.1,300 per month per child and 90 per cent capacity. The final price to be charged for a place in the ILO crèche however will need to be examined closely by the Board of the crèche in consultation with the director. The cost of the crèche for delegates to ILO meetings would be a derivative of the cost paid by ILO staff members (Sw.frs.50-75 per day). If it were determined to be beneficial to accept children of non-ILO staff members (providing room was available), they would be required to pay more than delegates to ILO meetings and ILO staff members, in such a way that their attendance would not be subsidized by the ILO.

Need for an ILO subsidy

24. All crèches in the Geneva area that apply the collective agreement for the salaries of child-care personnel must receive subsidies in order to make ends meet financially. While no exact figures were available from the City of Geneva, it is currently estimated that they subsidize their crèches at a rate of at least 50 per cent and as high as 80 per cent of running costs. While private crèches are not obliged to apply the collective agreement, the Staff Union strongly believes that any crèche servicing the ILO and on its premises must respect the terms of the collective agreement.

25. The subsidy required by the ILO would take two forms. Firstly, the ILO would provide a subsidy in kind in the form of providing a location for the crèche, electricity, heating, air-conditioning and water free of charge. It is difficult to estimate the real value of this subsidy as the space used is already provided free of charge, with heating, air- conditioning and water.

26. Secondly, the ILO would need to provide a cash subsidy ranging from a minimum of some $160,000 per biennium (calculated on the basis of an average fee of Sw.frs.1,300 per child for 49 full-time children (i.e. 90 per cent capacity)), to a maximum of $300,000 per biennium (calculated based on an average fee of Sw.frs.1,250 per child for 44 full-time children (i.e. 80 per cent capacity)). Further information about the costs of running a crèche is attached as Annex II. For the sake of providing cost estimates, it is not considered realistic to assume a 100 per cent occupancy rate being maintained throughout the year, due to transfers, end of contracts and new births during the year. In addition, a certain spare capacity would need to be maintained for the purpose of being able to provide child-care assistance during the ILO meetings and conferences, which take place in the ILO building during 21-25 weeks per year.

Proposed opening

27. The Staff Union proposes that authorization to open an ILO crèche be granted as soon as possible. It would be feasible to open a crèche in the ILO as soon as April 1999 provided that the Governing Body could approve such a proposal and make the necessary resources available from savings under Part 1 of the Budget. It might even be possible to start offering child-care facilities as soon as January 1999 provided that the ILO could take advantage of an opportunity to take over an existing nearby crèche which is being forced to close at the end of the current year due to a decrease in the subsidy received from the town. Assuming that the ILO could take advantage of this closure to purchase equipment at reduced rates and to take on its staff, a great deal of time and money could be saved. In addition, the ILO would be able to mobilize the experience of the existing staff in starting an ILO crèche.(2) 

Annex I

Women's participation in ILO meetings and conferences

Annex II

ILO crèche: Income and expenditure budget



Personnel costs


Includes 1 Director, 1/2 Cleaner and 11 child-care providers



Materials and equipment


Cleaning materials


First aid materials




Total expenditure per year (in SFr.)



Fee options:

80% capacity (44 children)

85% capacity (46 children)

90% capacity (49 children)


Average fees 1,250 SFr . per month





Average fees 1,300 SFr . per month




Subsidy required from the ILO (depending on fees and capacity)

Expressed in Swiss Francs per year

80% capacity (44 children)

85% capacity (46 children)

90% capacity (49 children)


Average fees 1,250 SFr . per month





Average fees 1,300 SFr . per month




Expressed in US dollars per biennium at budget rate 1.46SFr./US$

80% capacity (44 children)

85% capacity (46 children)

90% capacity (49 children)


Average fees 1,250 SFr . per month





Average fees 1,300 SFr . per month




80% capacity (44 children)

85% capacity (46 children)

90% capacity (49 children)

Average expenditure per month per child




Average subsidy per month per child:


Average fees 1,250 SFr . per month





Average fees 1,300 SFr . per month




1. GB.261/5/27, GB.262/8/3 (Third report of the Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee), GB.264/PFA/17, GB.264/PFA/R2 (Second report of the Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee).

2. This window of opportunity however will be lost to the ILO if the decision to open a crèche is taken only in March 1999, as the other existing facility will have been forced to shut down in the meantime.

Updated by VC. Approved by RH. Last update: 26 January 2000.