Five-yearly Review – the work continues

Following the decisions taken by the CERN Council in December 2015, and particularly the agreement to implement the new career structure, several projects have been launched since the beginning of 2016.

In the framework of the concertation process, the Staff Association has been brought to examine, analyse and take a stance on a variety of topics.

In the 252nd and 254th editions of our newsletter “Echo”, as well as during the public meeting of 22 September, the Staff Association has discussed at length:

  • the new salary scale and your position in this scale on 1st September 2016;
  • the benchmark jobs and your provisional placement in a benchmark job.

Today, the discussions that require our full attention concern the annual MERIT exercise and promotions, two issues that are extremely sensitive and important for staff members, since they involve advancement and prospects of career evolution.

Administrative Circular No. 26 (AC 26): “Recognition of Merit”

AC 26 is certainly one of the most important documents relating to the annual MERIT exercise and promotions.

Therefore, throughout the summer and until the Standing Concertation Committees (SCC) held on 20 September and 6 October 2016, the Staff Association and the Management have worked hard to revise this administrative circular. The new version came into force on 1st November 2016.

AC 26 focuses particularly on:

  • annual MERIT exercise, incl. interview, evaluation report, performance qualification;
  • promotions;
  • advancement at the end of probation period;
  • allocation of financial awards.

Moreover, the Annex I bis of AC 26 details the transition measures introduced for staff members whose contract started before 1st September 2016 and who are in a personal position with a salary that exceeds the maximum of their grade. These transition measures will be applied until 1st May 2020 for all staff members who already are in this position or will reach it within the next four years.

Annual MERIT exercise

The annual MERIT exercise replaces the MARS exercise. The new performance evaluation process will be launched shortly, with interviews starting in the beginning of December 2016.

The MERIT exercise is intended to be simpler than the MARS exercise. Nevertheless, in the MERIT interview with your supervisor, the results of the objectives agreed upon for the reference year and the performance in the functions will be evaluated, new objectives for the current year will be defined and, lastly, there will be a performance qualification.

AC 26 establishes a number of rules that are complemented by the 2017 MERIT Guidelines. The following table summarises the aspects related to the performance qualification for eligible staff members:

Performance qualification Recommended distribution Salary increase or advancement1 Performance award1
Insufficient 0 à 1 %  0 % --
Fair 6 à 12 % 0,35 % --
Strong 57 à 63 % 1,35 % 1,15 %
Outstanding 27 à 33 % 2,35 % 2,15 %

1 on the basis of percentage of midpoint of your grade

During the SCC held on 31 October, the HR Department presented the 2017 MERIT Guidelines. The document could not be approved as presented.

Indeed, we consider that the promotion procedure for passing from grade 5 to grade 6 (with no change in the benchmark job) should on no account be different from procedures that are applied when passing from grade 1 up to 5, and from 6 to 7.

Moreover, we think that the procedure must be different for promotions within the same benchmark job, and for those that involve a change in functions leading to a change of benchmark job.

These two issues are currently blocking the approval of the 2017 MERIT Guidelines.


For several months already, a group of representatives of the HR, the Sectors and the Staff Association has worked on defining the new “Promotion Guide”, which will replace the “Career Path Guide”. The objective of this work is to review:

  • the texts outlining factors for promotion; the work was carried out in the summer and has now been completed;
  • the matrix that defines the level of each of the factors required according to the relevant benchmark jobs and grades.

This matrix is constructed on the basis of:

  • benchmark job clusters; these clusters encompass the classification of benchmark jobs (e.g. 1-2-3 or 3-4-5 or 4-5-6) and job “families”, e.g. in the technical sector, workers, technicians, technical engineers, engineers, principal engineers;
  • the nine factors, based on the criteria of the current “Career Path Guide”.

Even though the working group has made good progress, the “Promotion Guide” will probably not be formally approved before the SCC of February 2017. Hence, we have proposed that a draft version of this guide be already distributed in the departments (heads of departments, groups and sections) so that they can explore the document, test the process and point out potential dysfunctions before any formal approval.

The Staff Association is working on several fronts and is already reflecting on proposals regarding the implementation of:

  • career development interviews;
  • validation of skills acquired through experience;
  • internal mobility.

The work with the Management on these topics must be conducted in 2017 for an implementation in 2018 at the latest.

During the interview with our Director-General last spring (see Echo No. 250), Fabiola Gianotti confirmed that these three projects are key for the management of careers at CERN and must be completed. We certainly hope that these words of support and encouragement set the direction and will be followed by fruitful discussion and successful implementation.

by Staff Association