An initiative of the International Civil Service Commission

New Common System Compensation
Package Portal

One-stop portal for all you need to know about the new compensation package for the professional category, approved by the General Assembly on December 2015.

SOME EXAMPLES
Click through these examples to better understand the changes:

The General Assembly approved A/RES/70/244 a revised compensation package for the staff in the Professional category and above on 23 December 2015, based on the recommendations of the ICSC.

The revised compensation package was the result of a three year review by the ICSC which collaborated closely with representatives of the organizations and staff. The new package aims to simplify and streamline the current complex system and ensures a harmonized approach across the common system.

KEY CHANGES
  • A unified salary scale structure
  • Establishment of a dependent spouse allowance at the level of six percent of net remuneration
  • An allowance for staff members who are single parents who provide main and continuous support for their dependent children, at the level of six percent of net remuneration
  • Granting within-grade step increments annually from step I to step VII and biennially thereafter for grades P-1 through P-5 and maintaining the biennial steps at the D-1 and D-2 levels
  • An education grant system based on a global sliding scale of reimbursement of a streamlined list of education-related expenses
  • New options concerning relocation shipment
  • An adjusted hardship allowance with increased amounts for single staff
  • A new non-family service allowance, in lieu of the current additional hardship allowance
  • A new mobility incentive, in lieu of the current mobility allowance
  • Changes to accelerated home leave travel, which will be granted for staff in D and E category duty stations that do not fall under the rest and recuperation framework
  • An incentive payment for the recruitment of experts in highly specialized fields
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Kingston P. Rhodes

Chairman

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to inform you about the revised UN common system compensation package, which was approved by the General Assembly on December 2015.

But first, a few words about ICSC and its role. The ICSC was established by the General Assembly to regulate and coordinate the conditions of service of staff of the United Nations common system. This has become more and more challenging as mandates continue to expand, more organizations with different missions are joining the common system, and staff populations are growing.

Yet the task of the ICSC remains the same:

  • To recommend policies that Member States can support and that will enable organizations to carry out their mandates
  • And to support staff and their vital role in helping organizations achieve their goals

In 2013, at the request of the General Assembly, the ICSC initiated a comprehensive review of the compensation package for staff in the Professional categories.

The underlying notion of a common system is to promote harmonization and ensure that narrow tactical interests are balanced against long-term strategic ones. For its part, the Commission can regulate and coordinate common system conditions of service as per its statute, but holding the system together is a collective responsibility in which all stakeholders have roles to play. It is only through the combined good will and effort of all parties that we can achieve common system goals and expectations of Member States, the organizations and staff members and their representatives, each with differing perspectives.

Given the increasing changes in our workplace, the effects of technology, and the growth of the United Nations as a whole, our goal was to create a simplified and sustainable compensation package.

We approached the task with the diverse needs of all United Nations staff in mind.

We sounded out Executive Heads, staff, and managers alike.

We listened - and understood that both staff and Executives Heads wanted to have closer links between pay and performance and that organizations wanted a simplified system that allowed for some flexibilities.

During the review we held several working group meetings, which included representatives of the organizations and staff federations.

We benchmarked the existing compensation package with the comparator civil service. We studied the practices of other international organizations. And, we administered a global staff survey.

The review was extensive. Along the way there were many intense discussions and in-depth technical analysis.

As a result of these conversations, the new package is competitive and fair, and it provides greater flexibility for organizations. In short, it can be defined by four major changes:

  • A simplified salary scale
  • A revised recognition of dependents, reflecting modern practices
  • A simplified education grant
  • A streamlined field package

I am pleased that the new package has met our goals, and I am confident it will better support you and the important work you do every day.

Yes, these changes will affect staff in different ways. Some will see gains, while others may not. However, it is important to understand that any negative impact will be mitigated by transitional measures.

Please use the tools available on this site to better understand how changes in the new compensation package may impact you personally. Last and not least, I encourage you to reach out, ask questions and provide feedback by using the links on this page.

Thank you,
Kingston Rhodes

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What are the changes to the salary scale?
  • The revised salary structure pays staff members at the same grade and step, the same salary for work performed, irrespective of family circumstances. It takes dependency recognition out of the salary scale by establishing a separate spouse allowance and child allowance.
  • It harmonizes the number of steps per grade and brings salary rates more in line with comparator (U.S. civil service) pay.
  • The pay levels of staff currently on board are protected: all staff will be transitioned to the new scale without losses upon implementation. Some staff will actually experience some gains.
2. It has been said that the new package "robs the poor to pay the rich". Is there any truth to that?
  • None whatsoever: this comes from inadvertent or deliberate misinterpretation of facts. As far as the serving staff are concerned:
    • Staff with a dependent spouse will receive the same pay if the newly established spouse allowance of 6% of net remuneration is taken into account. All staff at the P-1 level, irrespective of their present dependency status, will be transitioned to the new scale with some gains in pay;
    • All staff currently with single status will experience some slight gains in pay;
    • Some differences are inevitable, resulting in gains or losses for individual staff, but no "preferential treatment" would be afforded to higher grades at the expense of the lower ones.
3. What will happen if my current salary upon conversion to the new system falls outside the unified salary scale?
  • These salaries outside the salary scale will be maintained as a pay protection measure. They will be subject to the same adjustment as those within the scale structure.
4. Will there be changes to my pensionable remuneration?
  • Not at all! No staff member would see any reductions in current pensionable remuneration levels under the proposals. In fact, staff at the P-1 grade would see some increases.
5. Is it true that the support for family leave in hardship duty stations has been reduced?
  • No changes were made to leave benefits such as annual leave, sick leave and family emergency leave.
  • There are a number of paid travel leave provisions that would apply under the new system. In most cases, there are no changes:
    • Rest and recuperation breaks: No changes are made to the current rest and recuperation framework that was introduced by the Commission in 2012. Staff in very dangerous locations, in non-family duty stations, including in C category non-family duty stations, and duty stations with a high level of hardship will continue to have rest and recuperation breaks of five days of authorized leave plus travel time with a frequency of every six, eight or twelve weeks respectively, and in some very exceptional cases four weeks. Under the rest and recuperation framework, rest and recuperation breaks are also provided to staff serving in family duty stations that are non-capital D and E category duty stations.
    • Accelerated home leave travel: Staff who are posted in D and E family duty stations where no Rest and Recuperation (R&R) is granted will continue to benefit from accelerated home leave travel. In other previously covered C to E duty stations, staff will continue to benefit from paid rest and recuperation travel, paid home leave travel, paid education grant travel and paid family visit.
    • Home leave: There will be no change to the 24-month home leave cycle and it would continue to apply to all duty stations, including field duty stations. In this case, travel is paid for the staff and eligible family members.
    • Education grant travel: Additional education grant travel for the designated duty stations in the field will be discontinued. For staff serving in the field, one round trip per year per child will be payable when boarding assistance is provided for children to travel between the place of study and the duty station, or reverse travel for the parent to travel if the child cannot travel to the duty station and the parent has not travelled on home leave that year.
    • Family visit travel: No change to the current provisions and applicable to all duty stations when the family is not installed at the staff member's duty station.
6. Is my mobility allowance going to be affected if I move to a Headquarters duty station?
  • Yes, it would be affected because the purpose of the mobility incentive is to encourage the geographic mobility of staff to field duty stations. The Commission believes that mobility is linked to the career path of a staff member. It also recognized that staff in "H" category duty stations benefit from a variety of choices relating to conditions of work and life compared to staff serving in the field.
7. What are the major differences between the current and the new education grant schemes?
  • The objective and many elements of the current and the new education grant schemes are the same. The overall cost-sharing principle remains the same, but with higher reimbursement rates for lower claims, gradually reduced for expenses in the higher cost brackets.
  • The present system has been criticised as complex and cumbersome. It differentiates reimbursement levels by 15 no longer easily explainable currency zones/geographical areas (14 individual countries, eight of which are in the euro zone, and one area covering about 150 countries in the rest of the world), calculates reimbursement based on a large number of admissible expenses (often requiring subjective interpretation and time-consuming certification) and applies several different ways to calculate boarding assistance. In comparison, the new system is based on a global scale of reimbursement regardless of the school locations or staff's duty station, catering to the level of expenses of the majority of the current claims.
  • The new system provides assistance where it is needed most, primarily tuition, enrolmentrelated fees and tuition. While the list of admissible expenses will be reduced, the sum of tuition, enrolment-related expenses and mother tongue tuition fees will continue to be costshared by the staff member and the organization, with higher reimbursement levels for relatively low claim levels.
  • The new scheme continues to leave the choice of schools to staff and their children. At the same time, it recognizes the difference in terms of the availability of viable educational alternatives in H-category and field duty stations. Therefore, assistance for boarding expenditures would be provided only for those who serve in the field (A to E duty stations).
  • While it is impossible to exactly predict how much a staff member would gain or lose under the new system, the revised provisions could result in increases, significant at times, in particular for claims consisting primarily of tuition fees, as well as for those with children currently in school zones with lower grant ceilings. The new system will be much simpler and more efficient while maintaining its attractiveness as a feature of the common system compensation system.
8. How about post adjustment? How has it changed in the new compensation package?
  • Some changes have been made to the post adjustment system in order to make salary adjustments simpler, more accurate, more transparent and more predictable. However, the fundamental principles underlying the post adjustment system have not changed. In particular:
    • The setting of post adjustment is still based on the evolution of the cost of living at your duty station relative to that of New York, which is the base of the post adjustment system; and
    • The amount of your post adjustment is still calculated as the percentage of your net base salary (as indicated by the post adjustment multiplier for your duty station) that is added to ensure that your net remuneration has a purchasing power equivalent to that of your counterparts in New York.
9. How will dependants be recognised in the new system?
  • Support provided for dependent family members will be separated from salary. In addition, in order to ensure that the support of the organization in relation to dependants is better targeted, some changes to the eligibility criteria for such assistance are also being made. Under the new approach:
    • staff with a dependent spouse will be paid a spouse allowance equivalent to 6 per cent of net remuneration (net base salary plus post adjustment), irrespective of staff members' grade and level;
    • single parents who provide main and continuous support for their dependent children, an allowance equivalent to 6 per cent of net remuneration will be paid in respect of the first dependent child, irrespective of staff members' grade and level;
    • staff members with children and a non-dependent spouse will no longer be paid at the dependency rate in respect of the first dependent child. At the time of conversion to the unified salary scale such staff will receive a transitional allowance of 6 per cent of net remuneration in respect of the first dependent child (no child allowance should be paid concurrently in that case). The allowance will be reduced by 1 percentage point of net remuneration every 12 months thereafter, until the amount of the transitional allowance becomes equal to or less than the amount of the child allowance, when the latter amount will be payable.
    • No changes are proposed to the amount of the child allowance: dependent children will continue to be paid a child allowance. (In the case of single parent staff, the first dependent child receives an allowance equivalent to 6 per cent of net remuneration, in lieu of the child allowance).
    • No changes are proposed to the recognition of secondary dependants.