A throwback to the Committees week at the end of 2020
The CERN Finance Committee and Council took place from 9 to 11 December 2020. The subjects dealt with were particularly important, with numerous and dense debates.
The Staff Association particularly noted the following decisions affecting the financial and social conditions of the personnel, which were recommended by the Finance Committee and approved by the Council:
For 2021 the indexation of :
- 0.44% for basic salaries and allowances ;
- 0% for subsistence allowances ;
- 1.77% for home leave;
- -0.49% for the material budget.
The Staff Association was pleased to note that the indexation procedure was strictly applied.
Proposed amendments to the Organization's Staff Rules and Regulations
A- Classification and recognition of merit, proposal to clarify the current practice:
- Members of personnel who are on probation or who have worked less than 1/3 of the reference period for CERN are not eligible for performance qualification and, consequently, for performance qualification;
- The salary increase may not exceed the maximum of the staff member's grade.
The Staff Association supported this proposal both in substance and in form, the concertation process having been respected.
B- End of contract
Management proposed to delete the clause that stipulates: “In exceptional circumstances and in the interests of the Organization, to extend the contract of other staff members with senior managerial responsibilities within the Director-General’s top-level organisational structure beyond the age limit, provided that any such extension does not go beyond 31 December 2020”.
The Staff Association supported the deletion of this clause from the Staff Regulations R II 5.01 because it is opposed in principle to exceptional laws and always prefers proposals that can be to the benefit of all personnel.
C- Financial conditions
- Proposal to amend Article S V 1.01 of the SRRs: The subsistence allowance ordered or paid by CERN constitutes a financial benefit under the SRRs, in order to distinguish between two types of subsistence allowance:
- Allowances of the same nature processed by CERN at the direction of a third party do not constitute a financial benefit under the SRR;
- In order to distinguish between the two types of allowances that currently bear the same name, the latter should be called "cost-of-living allowance" (COLA).
- Article R V 1.04 of the SRR: Proposal to introduce a definition of the cost-of-living allowance: “to cover additional costs arising from their stay in the local area”.
- Articles R V 2.05 & R V 2.06 of the SRRs to:
- Clarify the issuance of the internal tax certificate for subsistence;
- Establish the right to an individual annual declaration with respect to the COLA.
The Staff Association recalled that Users are members of personnel linked to CERN by a contract of association for the purpose of international scientific collaboration. Their contributions are vital for CERN and its Experiments through the work they carry out in the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and upgrade of the detectors.
The Management has unilaterally decided to cap the amount of the subsistence allowances paid to Users and to replace the usual internal tax certificate by an Individual Annual Statement.
However, the proposed amendments may affect the financial situation of their families that existed until now. The people affected by this measure are worried because they will potentially find themselves in a deteriorated financial situation. This is even more true for those who have seen their revenues capped.
The Staff Association has therefore requested that before any changes to the Staff Rules and Regulations are made, a SCC working group be set up and which would further:
- Study more precisely the individual and collective financial impact on affected Users of the proposal;
- Study any other measure to support this new tax declaration system to avoid any disruption to the financial situation of our colleagues and their families;
- Study the proposals made by the currently running Working group on staff support for the experiments.
The Staff Association has therefore expressed its opposition to the proposed changes.
D- Proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations of the Pension Fund and the CERN Health Insurance Scheme
In 2018, the Standing Concertation Committee created a Working Group on the purchase of a surviving spouse pension. Among the proposals of this working group is the proposal to allow the purchase of a partial surviving spouse's pension in predefined slices, i.e. 20%, 40% or 55% of the deceased beneficiary's pension.
In addition, Management has made proposals for amendments to the CERN Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) Regulations, which are directly related to the Organization's responsibility for changes in family composition occurring after retirement.
- At present, if a person marries, or remarries, after retirement, the spouse is immediately covered by CHIS as a subsidiary member. Depending on the spouse's income, and other health insurance coverage that may otherwise be available to him or her, an additional contribution may be required.
- Following the death of the beneficiary, there are two scenarios:
- If a surviving spouse's pension has not been acquired, the spouse may remain a member of CHIS for up to one year at his/her own expense. Finding other insurance is not necessarily easy, especially if the spouse has renounced the health insurance he or she had before marriage;
- If a surviving spouse's pension has been acquired, the spouse may remain a member of CHIS and CERN will contribute to the cost according to the usual distribution.
The Management proposed the following changes:
- For couples whose marriage took place after the entry into force of the new rules, the spouse will be covered by CHIS only if a surviving spouse's pension has been acquired (existing couples will retain the existing coverage).
- For couples who acquire a surviving spouse's pension after the entry into force of the new rules (i.e. for new marriages, or for existing couples who avail themselves of the transitional measures set out in Proposal 6 of Section II), the surviving spouse may remain in CHIS after the death of the beneficiary, but must bear the full costs (the Organization will not contribute to the contributions) ;
- For couples who acquire a surviving spouse's pension after the entry into force of the new rules, the contribution to CHIS of the surviving spouse will be based on the total surviving spouse's pension, irrespective of the slice chosen.
- For similar reasons, it is also proposed that children born, adopted or officially recognised more than one year after the beneficiary parent's departure from the Organisation will be automatically covered by CHIS only if both parents are covered by CHIS, either individually or following the acquisition of a spouse's pension.
The Staff Association fully supported the pension proposals made by Management, although regretting that the changes made to the health insurance cover in this package have disrupted the balance of contributions.
Nevertheless, in view of the progress made on pensions, the Association did not oppose the proposed package.
As you can read, the discussions have been important for both active and retired personnel and will certainly continue this year.