Towards a better work/life balance

In addition to the family measures discussed in Echo 204, we propose here a set of more general measures to improve work life/balance of all staff throughout their careers. These measures are primarily aimed at simplifying existing procedures or making them more flexible.

Work from home

The Organization allows working from home for up to one day a week for a duly justified reason and subject to approval by one’s hierarchy. However, the current procedure lacks flexibility and transparency. Figure 1 shows that a large fraction of staff wants to be able to work from home for more than one day per week.

The possibility to introduce occasional requests to work from home via a simplified procedure is desired by a majority (Fig. 2).

These changes to the procedure for working from home are inspired by the positive experience in other companies. They have contributed to an improvement in staff motivation. We believe that such adjustments will also have a positive effect on the efficiency of the Organization.

Flexible work schedule

It is already possible at CERN to work according to a flexible work schedule. However, the introduction of a system of flexible working hours with carry-over of hours on a weekly or monthly basis, duly respecting the contractual working time duration, would contribute to a more optimal balance and better organization of professional and personal activities.

Saved leave scheme

The saved leave scheme (SLS) is a great success. Some 45% of staff participate in the scheme, 26% taking one slice, 7% two or three slices and 12% taking four slices. Regarding possible changes to the current SLS participants to our 2013 staff survey responded as shown in Fig. 3.

This figure shows first a large demand to reduce the cost of the second slice to the level of the first slice (1.5%), then to make it possible to use LTSLS leave before the end of the career, and next to be able to transfer a maximum of ten days of annual leave to the LTSLS account.

These last two demands would complement existing leave, such as parental or compassionate leave. In the latter case this is to allow staff to have the time to accompany a parent (end-of-life, serious illness) or deal with situations of disability of a family member.

Flexibility when approaching retirement

In analogy with similar measures proposed in several Member States to recognize their dedication, experience and service, CERN offers  its staff  who are in the later stages  of their  career special leave and access to early retirement programmes. Based on the responses in our survey, the Staff Association proposes the introduction of some additional facilities for these people so as to obtain their optimal motivation until the end of their careers, an essential element to ensure that their experience is fully transferred to their younger colleagues.

Currently a leave for long service of five days is granted to staff at the end of 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service. In analogy to conditions in many collective bargaining agreements in the Member States over two-thirds of those responding in our survey suggest that five days of special leave for long service should be allocated each year after 25 years of service or after one’s 50th birthday.

In the survey a strong majority of respondents said they believe that the current early-retirement programmes suit them. The same majority (Fig. 4) expressed support for the possibility of combining part-time work (paid by CERN) and partial retirement (paid for by the Pension Fund).

A majority were in favour of extending the current legal retirement age from 65 to 67 years, thus allowing staff hired before 2012 to continue working, on a voluntary basis, until the age of 67 (Fig. 5).


by Staff Association