A social protection policy that could fizzle out


Let’s start with a reminder:
As part of its social protection policy, the Organisation has:
    • Principles it must apply: as each member of personnel is outside their national system of social protection, the Organisation, in its role as a State, is obliged to protect them.
    • Objectives it sets itself: to protect members of personnel against the economic consequences of illness, occupational accidents and diseases, disability and old age.
    • Means it gives itself: in the form of the protection scheme that it has instituted1.

A policy tested by facts:
We recognise that there have been cases in which members of the personnel involved have been protected well against the economic consequences of illness, accident and incapacity to work. However, we need to alert staff about even a single case, in which the consequences for the person concerned may forever disrupt their professional and personal future. One case is always one too many.

One particular case concerns a firefighter who suffered an occupational accident at work while holding a limited duration (LD) contract that has now expired. This case Illustrates how the Organisation hides behind «the means it gives itself» to render meaningless «the principles it must apply» and «the objectives it sets itself».

Indeed, the Joint Advisory Appeal Board (JAAB), considers that the payment of a single lump sum corresponding to two months’ salary is low in relation to the harm suffered, namely professional incapacity for the job of firefighter and the existence of a partial disability for life. This is obviously not really compatible with the Organisation’s duty to protect. However, as the Directorate had only authorised the JAAB to examine one technical element, the latter considered that it was not in a position to examine the merits of the case and finally rejected the appeal. 

Nevertheless, the medical certificates and reports drawn up in the framework of the Joint Advisory Rehabilitation and Disability Board (JARDB) attest to serious and permanent health problems for the applicant, rendering him unable to continue to perform his profession. 

The JAAB also considers that the claimant’s state of health generally prevents him from carrying out any job with a physical aspect, and entails a significant restriction on activities in his private life.

How did the Organisation protect its staff?
    • According to the JAAB, the Organisation did not make any redeployment proposals, even though the applicant had applied for numerous posts for which he had the professional skills or the possibility to undergo refresher training. 
    • Redeployment, if it were possible, with the subsequent employer to which he was attached would likely entail a very significant loss of salary, pension and social security cover.
    • This case demonstrates that, in the event of an occupational accident, social protection can be different for a holder of a limited duration contract that has expired and a holder of a permanent contract. This inequality of treatment is contrary to the principles of international civil service law. 
    • Compensation by a single payment, not differentiated according to age, occupation, actual income at the time of the accident, is not appropriate for physical injury when it is medically certified that the harm is permanent and definitive.

What is at stakes?
If we let this happen, tomorrow there will be the other risks: that we will no longer be protected against the economic consequences of illness and old age.

We have recently met the Director General to find a solution that respects the Organisation’s commitments.

We will keep you informed of the outcome of this matter. In the meantime, we invite you to read the full report of the JAAB which was published in the newsletter (No 14-15-16/2023) and which you can consult here: https://staff-association.web.cern.ch/sites/default/files/Echo/2023/JAAB.pdf



1 - Reference Article 21 de l’Accord de siège avec le Conseil Fédéral suisse et l’Article 1 de l’Accord d’établissement avec le Gouvernement de la République française