Dispute settlement at CERN: new a complaint mechanism

data protection

What’s new?

The new annexes to Operational Circular No. 11 (OC11) “The processing of personal data at CERN” introduces an independent, expert supervisory authority for data protection matters, the Data Protection Commission (DPC).

  • The DPC will be competent, inter alia, for investigating complaints submitted by members and nonmembers of the personnel in relation to the processing of their personal data by or on behalf of the Organization.
  • The DPC will provide its findings and recommendations to the Director General for final decision.

How does it work?

The Organization provides a two-tier dispute settlement system to its members of the personnel in which they may challenge an administrative decision by the Director-General that adversely affects their conditions of employment or association deriving from their contract or from the Staff Rules and Regulations (Staff Rule S VI 1.01).

  • The first tier is internal: members of the personnel can initially request a review of an administrative decision (S VI 1.04) or else proceed directly with the submission of an internal appeal (S VI 1.05). In respect of the latter, the Director General consults the Joint Advisory Appeals Board (JAAB), which issues a recommendation (S VI 1.05; R VI 1.17). The Director-General then takes a final decision on the matter (R VI 1.18).
  • The second tier involves the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILOAT), the jurisdiction of which CERN has accepted in such matters. Once a decision is final or when internal procedures have otherwise been exhausted, members of the personnel may file a complaint with the ILOAT (S VI 1.03).
  • For certain decisions, either because of their nature or because they have been taken following a procedure considered equivalent to that of the JAAB, the complainant can proceed directly to the ILOAT (Staff Rule S VI 1.07). This includes decisions taken by the Director General following recommendations by the Joint Advisory Rehabilitation and Disability Board (JARDB) or the Joint Advisory Disciplinary Board (JADB), as well as decisions taken following the dispute in the framework of the procedure for the settlement of disputes provided for in the Rules of the Organization’s Health Insurance Scheme.

The DPC is equivalent to the JAAB for the member of personnel. Insofar as non-members of the personnel are concerned, the Organization will introduce a specific arbitration procedure to ensure that their rights are fully respected.

Modifications on the Staff Rules and Regulations (SRR)

The consequence of this new complaint mechanism introduces some modifications on the Staff Rules S VI.1.07, much like the other specialised bodies. It is thus proposed to add “a decision taken as a result of the procedure for the resolution of complaints provided for in the Organization’s rules on data privacy protection” to the list of decisions against which a member or former member of the personnel may directly refer a complaint to the ILOAT.

Next steps

As established in the Annexes of the OC11, the members of the DPC will be appointed by the Director General. These members will be recommended by a board already in place and composed of one representative of the Director-General, another of the CERN Staff Association, and another of the Office of Data Privacy (ODP).

The DPC should be operational as of 2022.