Towards a more equitable “Equity Budget”

Equity Budget? What is this?

Before the last five-yearly review of employment conditions in 2015, the total advancement budget was at 2.1% of the salary mass, divided between 1.8% for the “average” advancement, and 0.3% for “exceptional” advancement, including additional salary increase for high-potential persons, promotion steps, steps for internal mobility, correction of eventual errors at recruitment, etc.

The last five-yearly review reduced the normal advancement budget to 1.55% and introduced the equity budget (a rather strange name), corresponding to 0.1% for “exceptional” advancement.

But it was a great surprise to see in 2017 that only 7% of this equity budget, already reduced by 2/3, was used. Compared to the budget available and used before 2017, this is a drop of more than 97%... Incomprehensible! As if, all of a sudden, no one deserves exceptional advancement anymore!

The explanation was quickly found. Only one possibility of using this budget was accepted: when a person was promoted to the next grade before the overlap point with the next grade. In order not to be outside of the grid, below the minimum of the next grade, this person had to receive an exceptional salary increase corresponding to the difference.

This case is perfectly justified and even corresponds, according to us, to a definition of a high-potential person. Sure, but on the one hand the number of people who are in this situation is limited, and on the other hand, the maximum salary increase has been, arbitrarily and without consultation with the Staff Association, set at 4%.

The Management saved in 2017 almost 0.1% of the salary mass. Wrongly, according to us, because the situations justifying an “exceptional” advancement are more diverse than this and must be recognized.

The work of the Staff Association

Starting in late 2017, we asked to review the conditions for granting this “exceptional” advancement and to broaden the base of eligible persons. The Staff Association worked with representatives of all sectors in a working group led by the HR department. The Association's position that defended the use of this budget as a tool for sound and intelligent career management has been confronted with a more economic vision of people wanting to save money by reducing the staff budget. Worse still, we found that the use of the equity budget for 2018 was likely to be even lower than in 2017!

Finally, after two interesting meetings of the Standing Concertation Committee (SCC) at the end of 2018, it was agreed that four cases would be considered for the use of the equity budget:

1.         as before, the exceptional salary increase for a person to be promoted before the overlap point to the next grade, but without percentage limit;

2.         the exceptional salary increase for a person whose development is considered excellent and who furthermore has strong potential to continue to develop rapidly;

3.         the exceptional salary increase for a person who, in the context of a major change of functions, has successfully integrated and has demonstrated both motivation and commitment beyond what is normally expected;

 4.        the exceptional salary increase for a person whose salary situation would justify an adjustment in the light of his or her experience and performance, in comparison with other persons who have similar functions and similar seniority in these functions.

It was also agreed in the SCC that the budget available in 2018 could still be used on the basis of decisions taken in 2019, for the 2018 exercise, for example alongside the ongoing MERIT exercise.

The HR department is currently promoting these cases of equity budget use in departments. The precise rules for use are under discussion and we hope that the Staff Association will be involved in these discussions, e.g. in the SCC.

What is there for you, practically?

But as far as you are concerned, do not hesitate to ask about all these use cases. Perhaps you or a colleague you know is in a position to benefit from this equity budget. So, talk to each other and feel free to talk to your supervisor and/or HRA about it, and ask them if you can benefit from it.

And if you have any question or would like to share your experience on this subject, please contact your staff delegate, who will be happy to listen to you and help you to see things through more clearly. Feel free also to come and meet us; our offices are located at Bldg 64, Room R-010, just next to the main building.

The Staff Association would like to take this opportunity to wish you an excellent year 2019!

May it be crowned with success and full of equity for all!


[1] On average 2 steps per person per year

by Staff Association