Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee
ELEVENTH ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Report of the International Civil Service Commission
1. The present document reports primarily on those recommendations of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), submitted in its annual report to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for 1998,(1) which have financial implications for the Office and which are being submitted to the Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee for early consideration so as to avoid action involving costly retroactive adjustments. These recommendations concern the base/floor salary scale and family allowances for staff in the Professional and higher categories. The document also provides further information on the ICSC's consideration of post adjustment in Geneva and outlines changes proposed to certain other conditions of service, some of which have further financial implications.
2. At the present session of the Governing Body, the Committee will not be able to consider the UNGA decisions on the ICSC's recommendations, as those decisions are unlikely to be adopted before mid-December 1998. A detailed report on the outcome of the relevant UNGA deliberations will be provided to the Committee in March 1999.
Base/floor salary scale
3. The ICSC has recommended an increase of 2.48 per cent in the base/floor salary scale for staff in the Professional and higher categories from 1 March 1999. This recommendation reflects the increase in salaries of equivalent staff in the United States federal civil service in 1998 and has been established using the agreed methodology. This salary adjustment will be applied in the normal way, i.e. by consolidating post-adjustment multiplier points into the base salary on a no-loss/no-gain basis. This will mean that only staff members at duty stations having a very low post adjustment (i.e. below 2.48 percentage points) will receive an increase in their net remuneration. An amendment to article 3.1 of the Staff Regulations will be required to implement the salary adjustment.
4. There will also be consequential increases in the mobility and hardship allowance and separation payments as a result of this salary adjustment.
Family allowances for staff in the Professional
and higher categories
5. During 1998 the ICSC undertook a further review of family allowances using the accepted methodology, which examines changes in the tax abatement and social legislation for the seven headquarters duty stations each biennium. The present review covered the period 1 January 1996 to 1 January 1998.
6. The ICSC agreed to recommend to the UNGA that, from 1 January 1999, the non-pensionable family allowances should be increased for: (a) eligible children, from US$1,510 to US$1,730; (b) eligible disabled children, from US$3,020 to US$3,460; and (c) secondary dependants, from US$540 to US$619. These changes will require amendments to article 3.12 of the Staff Regulations.
Geneva post adjustment
7. The UNGA last considered this issue in December 1997. At that time, it requested the ICSC to examine and report on a number of additional issues, on the basis of which it would then make a final decision on whether to establish a single post adjustment index for Geneva and neighbouring France. The issues primarily concerned the extent to which staff of UN organizations based in Geneva were able to travel to and reside in France and to transport goods between France and Switzerland.
8. At its summer session in 1998, the ICSC considered information provided by the Geneva-based organizations on these issues. This information had identified a number of practical and administrative difficulties experienced by staff of many nationalities in moving easily across two national borders on a daily and continuing basis. The Commission also noted the views of the organizations that the situation of the extremely high post adjustment in Geneva relative to that at the base of the system (New York) had narrowed considerably. The ICSC decided to report to the UNGA that it had made a conscientious effort to establish a single post adjustment index for Geneva that would fully reflect the situation of all staff working at the duty station. However, there remained complex technical, legal and administrative difficulties which currently mitigated against the establishment of such an index. The ICSC would, however, continue to monitor the evolution of the post adjustment in Geneva in the light of future developments, including the introduction of the Euro in selected countries of the European Union.
9. The ICSC also recommended to the UNGA that --
(a) the current staff assessment scale for determining the pensionable remuneration of officials in the Professional and higher categories and the General Service and related categories should continue to apply for at least the next two years, as there had been only minor changes in average tax rates at the seven headquarters duty stations between 1995 and 1997;
(b) increases be approved in the levels of maximum education grant and maximum admissible expenses in duty stations where education-related expenses were incurred in certain specified currencies (a consequential adjustment would also be required in the amount of special education grant paid for each disabled child). The ICSC also proposed that flat rates for boarding costs and the amounts of additional boarding costs over and above the maximum education grant payable to eligible staff members at designated duty stations, be increased. These increases are proposed to take effect from the school year in progress on 1 January 1999;
(c) the language incentive schemes currently applied to Professional and higher staff in UN common system organizations should be discontinued and replaced by a non-pensionable bonus (level to be determined), and the language allowance now paid to eligible staff in the General Service and related categories should be brought into line with this arrangement. The ICSC also recommended that the UNGA and the governing/legislative bodies of other organizations ensure that, in relation to both categories of staff, the bonus was paid only if the language concerned was used in the organization and that at the time of the periodic performance appraisal, organizations should retest or certify as to the actual use by staff of the language(s) in the organization. If approved, the ramifications of these proposals for the current ILO arrangements will need to be discussed with the Staff Union and examined in conjunction with other common system organizations.
10. In addition, the ICSC decided that existing staff travel entitlements should remain.
11. The cost of implementing the ICSC's recommendations concerning the increase of 2.48 per cent in the base/floor salary scale and in related allowances/payments (paragraph 3) and the changes in family allowance (paragraph 6) and education grant limits (paragraph 9) are covered by provisions made for that purpose in the Programme and Budget for 1998-99. No cost increases should result from the ICSC's recommendation concerning the language incentive/language allowance arrangements (paragraph 9).
12. The Committee may wish to recommend that the Governing Body --
(a) accept the recommendations of the ICSC, subject to their approval by the United Nations General Assembly, on the following entitlements:
(i) an increase of 2.48 per cent in the base/floor scale, and consequential increases in the mobility and hardship allowance and separation payments, for staff in the Professional and higher categories, with effect from 1 March 1999;
(ii) increases in the present levels of family allowances for staff in the Professional and higher categories, with effect from 1 January 1999;
(iii) increases in the maximum education grant and maximum admissible expenses payable to eligible staff members at designated duty stations, with effect from the school year in progress on 1 January 1999;
(b) note that, if approved, the proposed changes to the language incentive/language allowance arrangements will be the subject of consultation with the Staff Union and other common system organizations;
(c) authorize the Director-General to give effect in the ILO, through amendments to the Staff Regulations (as necessary), to the measures referred to in subparagraphs (a) and (b), subject to their approval by the General Assembly.
Geneva, 5 October 1998.
Point for decision: Paragraph 12.
1. General Assembly, Official Records, Fifty-third Session, Supplement No. 30 (A/53/30).