What is CAPA?

The CAPA, or the Individual Cases Commission (Commission des Cas Particuliers), is responsible for assisting members of the Staff Association in their disputes with the Organization. A professional career is not always a bed of roses and, in certain situations, assistance is welcome.

In practical terms, CAPA is a group of 7 to 8 delegates of the Staff Association who are at the service of their colleagues, there to give them advice, inform them of their rights and obligations, guide and accompany them, and offer them support in various procedures, in full confidentiality and free of charge.

What kinds of issues are addressed by CAPA?

A variety of subjects are covered, including:

  • contractual situation: probation period – limited duration contracts (LD) and indefinite contracts (IC);
  • career evolution: advancement, promotion, Performance Improvement Plan;
  • administrative decisions;
  • equal opportunities and diversity;
  • health and security;
  • appeal procedure and disciplinary procedure;
  • relations between colleagues, between supervisors and supervisees; etc.

How to ask CAPA for assistance?

Contact the Staff Association Secretariat. If you are not a member of the Staff Association and if your case is of general interest, you can also contact us.

When to ask CAPA for assistance?

Seek assistance as early on as possible, right away when a difficult situation arises. Experience shows that prevention is better than cure.

Can I contact CAPA if I have already contacted other services?

Yes, of course. Any person (staff member, fellow, associated member of personnel, contractor’s personnel, etc.) can contact the CAPA even if they have already sought assistance from other CERN services, such as the Medical Service, Social Affairs Service, Human Resources, the Ombudsperson, etc. We are used to working together with different services.

How can CAPA intervene?

We offer a complimentary approach to that of other CERN services. It is not our intention to take action in your place and find a solution on your behalf. Rather, we help you find a solution by yourself through explaining or exploring possible courses of action together with you in strictly confidential meetings. In general, an appointment is made to discuss your situation. Two members of CAPA, who are your colleagues, will listen to you and offer you advice. We also regularly consult legal advisors specialised in international law.

What is the topic of the moment?

Currently an issue concerning many of us is the implementation of the five-yearly review and in particular the impacts that this review can have on your/our careers and your/our pensions (Echo No. 248 and Echo No. 252). Indeed, following the new career structure, effective from 1st September 2016, several colleagues have questions concerning their new classification within benchmark jobs and grades. You can find the answers to most of these questions in the FAQ list prepared by the Human Resources Department (HR):

Benchmark jobs and placements?

We remind you that CERN defines a benchmark job as “a grouping of individual work situations with similar main activities and a common aim”. A benchmark job covers a range of two or three grades in the new career structure, which encompasses 10 grades in total.

Your grade: your old career path and salary band define unequivocally your new grade, which cannot be contested.

Your benchmark job: your placement in a benchmark job is based on your job title and professional code as registered in the HR database when the change came into effect on 1st September 2016.

These placements may lead to several surprises. Therefore:

  • If you find that your professional code is not up-to-date and the benchmark job assigned to you does not correspond to your current functions, you should request a change of Benchmark Job Title while keeping your current grade;
  • If you find that one or more colleagues with the same job as you have been placed in a benchmark job covering a higher ranking of grades you may request a change of Benchmark Job Title while keeping your current grade;
  • If you find that one or more colleagues with the same grade as you have been placed in a benchmark job covering a higher ranking of grades, you are free to request a change of Benchmark Job Title while keeping your current grade;
  • If for any other reason you find that the benchmark job provisionally assigned to you does not reflect your current functions, you can request a revision of the benchmark job while keeping your current grade.

How to proceed?

You have to send, as soon as possible, a letter to your supervisors and your Human Resources Advisor (HRA). Letter templates are available from your delegates or from the Staff Association.

The final confirmation of the Benchmark Job Title assigned to you will be communicated to you on 1st May 2017 at the latest. Let us be very clear, this discussion period with your management and the HRAs can only result in a change of your Benchmark Job Title and will not involve any change of grade. Indeed, the transition to a superior grade can only be considered within the framework of a promotion.

Worrying situations – Personal positions superior to the maximum of a grade?

We must also talk about our colleagues classed in a personal position superior to the maximum of their grade. Transitory measures will be applied to their cases through 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, but once this ends, they will be definitively blocked in this personal position, unless they are granted a promotion. Essentially, being blocked at the maximum of the grade or in a personal position exceeding this maximum is not shocking when it happens at the end of one’s career. This scenario already existed in the old career structure and demonstrated that the colleagues in question had built a remarkable career because they had reached the very top of their career path before retirement.

Unfortunately, some colleagues have made it known that they will be blocked in the new career structure much earlier, that is, 10 to 15 years before the end of their career. Being blocked before the age of 50 is not acceptable for the person nor for CERN. The Staff Association is working jointly with the Management to resolve the situation by developing validation of skills acquired through experience (VAE), internal mobility, and career development interviews. Moreover, the Association has requested the Management to re-examine these situations as a priority, and is waiting for further information.

Finally, a very small number of colleagues who were granted exceptional career extension (ECE) before 1st September now find their career evolution prospects significantly reduced, along with their future pension, with no hope of improvement. Indeed, even if they were promoted to a superior grade, they would be again blocked in a personal position. In fact, they would need two successive promotions to regain a prospect of career evolution.

We encourage all colleagues involved in a blockage situation to get in contact with the Staff Association.

In conclusion, in most cases, the implementation of this new career structure is transparent and has little to no effect on career evolution. However, side effects are to be expected: positive, with new perspectives of evolution opened for some colleagues, but also negative for those whose careers will be blocked in the short term (after transitory measures). For them, the youngest in particular, the financial impacts can be of such a magnitude that an action is required. The CAPA is here to advise and help them where possible and to the best of their abilities.


by Staff Association