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268th Session
Geneva, March 1997
Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee PFA


Decisions of the United Nations General Assembly
on the recommendations of the

International Civil Service Commission

1. The Director-General informed the Committee, at the Governing Body's 267th Session (November 1996),(1) of the recommendations of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), submitted in its annual report to the United Nations General Assembly for 1996,(2) which, if approved would have implications for officials' conditions of service. The Governing Body, on the recommendation of the Committee: (a) noted the Commission's recommendations relating to pensionable remuneration and the post adjustment system; (b) accepted those concerning salary scales and staff assessment rates, as well as children's and secondary dependant's allowances, for staff in the Professional and higher categories, education grant and the mobility, hardship and non-removal allowance; and (c) authorized the Director-General to give effect to (b) through appropriate amendments to the Staff Regulations.(3) In accordance with the practice established by the Governing Body at its 192nd Session (February-March 1974), the Director-General will report to the Governing Body on these amendments at its 270th Session (November 1997).

2. The present document reports the decisions on the ICSC's recommendations taken by the General Assembly in Resolution 51/216 of 18 December 1996.

Pensionable remuneration and pension entitlements:
Common staff assessment scale

3. The General Assembly approved the conclusions and recommendations of the ICSC, except for the implementation date of the common staff assessment scale for the Professional and higher categories and the General Service and related categories, which was brought forward to 1 January 1997 (the ICSC had recommended 1 March 1997). These were implemented in the ILO on 1 January 1997.

Salary scales for staff in the Professional and higher categories

4. The Commission had reaffirmed its technical conclusions, reached in 1995, concerning modifications to be made to the methodology for determining the margin between the net remuneration of officials in the Professional and higher categories of the United Nations in New York and that of officials in comparable positions in the United States federal civil service, and to the structure of the salary scale itself; on the basis of these modifications it had forecast that the margin for 1996 would be 109.7. It had recommended a revision of the base/floor salary scales representing a 3.089 per cent real increase, plus a consolidation of 2.51 percentage points of post adjustment, combined with a restructuring of the scale, adding on average a further 1 per cent. The ICSC had recommended that these changes be effective on 1 March 1997, in accordance with the usual practice, in order to allow time for orderly implementation by the organizations without costly retroactivity.

5. The General Assembly did not retain the Commission's methodological modifications; it noted that without these modifications the margin for 1996 stood at 114.6; and it approved revised net salary scales representing an across-the-board increase of 5.68 per cent over the previous scales effective 1 March 1995, consisting in a 0.4 per cent real increase, to bring the margin to 115 plus a consolidation of 5.26 percentage points of post adjustment. At the same time, the General Assembly adopted new staff assessment scales and scales of gross salaries, which have important implications for the budget of the United Nations but no impact on officials' conditions of service nor any financial implications for the ILO. For reasons relevant to the budget of the United Nations, the General Assembly decided that these measures should be implemented with effect from 1 January 1997. These measures were implemented in the ILO on that date.

Supplementary payments

6. The General Assembly reaffirmed its view, and that of the ICSC, with respect to the practice of certain member States of making supplementary payments to their nationals, that such arrangements "are unnecessary, inappropriate and undesirable, and are inconsistent with the Staff Regulations of the organizations". It requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the executive heads of the organizations of the common system and member States to take steps to put an end to such practices.

Post adjustment issues

7. The General Assembly endorsed the Commission's decision concerning minimum out-of-area weights in the calculation of post adjustment indices. This decision will take effect on 1 March 1997. The General Assembly also reiterated its request to the Commission "to complete its study regarding the methodology for establishing a single post adjustment index for Geneva, and to complete the study needed to implement the single post adjustment at the earliest date, and no later than 1 January 1998", and requested it to review further all outstanding issues relating to the post adjustment system and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its 53rd Session.

8. Regarding the post adjustment for Geneva, the Committee will recall that in response to a request by the General Assembly(4) to ensure that place-to-place surveys were fully representative of the cost of living of all Professional staff at a duty station, the ICSC had recommended two possible solutions: either two separate post adjustments for staff living in Switzerland and France, respectively, or a mixed post adjustment based on prices in Switzerland and France, weighted by the numbers of Professional staff living either side of the border. The Commission had noted, however, that there were a number of legal and political problems which deserved serious consideration before any change could be made. The legal adviser of the ILO had likewise considered that these problems required much more thorough examination before any option could be chosen.(5) The Advisory Committee on Post Adjustment Questions (ACPAQ), whose advice was sought by the ICSC in March 1996, pointed out major technical difficulties in establishing a single index of the type called for by the General Assembly, and the Commission, in its report to the General Assembly for 1996, noted that in addition the subject had policy, administrative and legal ramifications. The Director-General notes that none of these concerns have as yet been addressed. Depending on the action that is taken by the ICSC and the General Assembly in the coming year, the Committee may have to examine this question further at the Governing Body's session in November 1997 or March 1998.

Review of the mobility and hardship scheme
Family allowances for staff in the Professional and higher categories
Review of the level of the education grant

9. The General Assembly approved without change the measures recommended by the ICSC, which, as indicated above in paragraph 1, were reported to the Committee at the Governing Body's 267th Session (November 1996).

Performance awards and bonuses

10. As a spin-off from its consideration of salaries, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to make proposals to it by 1 October 1997 "concerning the possibility of introducing a system of performance awards or bonuses, in the context of the performance appraisal system, to a limited number of staff in recognition of their outstanding performance and specific achievements in a given year". At the same time, it invited the executive heads of the common system "to develop and submit proposals, as a matter of priority, to their relevant intergovernmental bodies" concerning the same matter, and to coordinate these to the extent possible with those developed by the Secretary-General. The ICSC was requested to provide general comments on the concept of performance awards and bonuses to the General Assembly at its 52nd Session.

11. The Director-General will examine this issue in consultation with the staff representatives, not as an isolated subject, but as part of the Office's ongoing review and reforms of human resources development and career planning. The Governing Body will be kept informed, as appropriate.

Other subjects

12. The General Assembly urged the Commission, as part of its review of the methodology of salary setting for staff in the General Service and other locally recruited categories, to examine the question of overlap in remuneration between the Professional and General Service categories, and to study the feasibility of increasing the weight of public sector employers in the salary surveys at headquarters duty stations. The Commission's work in these areas will be reported to the Governing Body in November 1997.

13. The General Assembly also urged the appropriate bodies representing the staff to resume participation in the work of the Commission. It also called on the Board of Auditors to conduct a management review of the ICSC secretariat and to report to the General Assembly at its Fifty-second Session.

Financial implications

14. The financial implications of the increases in family allowances for Professional staff and in the level of the education grant, of the modification of the mobility and hardship scheme and of the decision to establish a new common scale of staff assessment for pensionable remuneration, were reported in November 1996. The net cost of increases in the Professional salary scale proposed by the ICSC was estimated at $0.8 million. As a result of the decisions taken by the General Assembly and reported in paragraph 5 above, the estimated cost amounts to around $0.4 million. At the Governing Body's 267th Session (November 1996), the Committee was informed that these increases were covered by provisions made in the Programme and Budget for 1996-97. Provision has also been made for the cost of these decisions in the Programme and Budget proposals for 1998-99.

15. Submitted for information.

Geneva, 21 February 1997.

1 GB.267/PFA/12.

2 Official records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first Session, Supplement 30 (A/51/30).

3 GB.267/8/2.

4 Resolution 48/224 of December 1993.

5 GB.264/PFA/12, November 1995.

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