Our October 2013 public meetings (second part)

In this second article we continue the discussion about the issues addressed in our public meetings. We focus on the merit appraisal and reward scheme, MARS, and conclude with some general information.


MARS 2013 Implementation

At the introduction of MARS in 2007, the basic principle for defining the advancement budget was that each staff member eligible for advancement generated two steps while in the salary bands a, b, or c, and one step while in the ECE (exceptional career extension). On several occasions, either to thank the staff for their work on the LHC, or, later, by using the savings from the reduction in international allowance to staff members recruited since early 2007, additional steps could be added to the basic advancement budget. As of 2013, we no longer talk of the advancement budget expressed in steps, but rather with respect to the reference salary, with a directive setting its ceiling at 2.1 %, plus the constraint that a minimum of 25 % of staff members must be awarded one step and that the budget calculated for a career path must, in principle, be used for that path. During the June 27th SCC, we were able to verify that the budget had indeed been used in the career paths in question, except that, as in other years, there had been a small budget transfer from path G towards path E. Figure 1 shows that almost 44 % of staff members received two steps, 21 % one step, 24 % three steps and very few received four or more steps. Staff members with zero steps are in their biggest majority members on probation period, blocked at the end of the band in a career path, or in the ECE. The evolution of the number of steps over the past seven years (Fig. 2) shows the percentage corresponding to one step is relatively constant. If we compare the years 2012 (orange) and 2013 (grey) we see that the maximum corresponds to two steps and a relative minimum corresponding to three or more steps, compared to year 2013. This is explained by the fact that, in 2012, the advancement budget was more constrained than in 2013, so there were fewer financial resources to reward merit.

Fig. 1 : Distribution of steps (total population) Fig. 2 : Distribution of steps (2007-2013)


The variation of the number of steps in function of the number of years worked at CERN (seniority) is shown in Fig 3. We see that the case of two or more steps is preponderant in the first part of the career (up to roughly twenty years of seniority), while the percentage of staff members who were awarded one step (in pink) greatly increases later in the career. The same trend is observed in Fig. 4, which shows the average number of steps by seniority. Again, we see that advancement takes place in the first part of the career (average number of steps exceeding two), while in the second part of the career this number decreases greatly. Therefore, we note that members evolve faster at the beginning of their career, which is understandable, but this certainly should not be at the expense of those who are in the second part of their career, and who have not benefited from an accelerated evolution at the beginning of their career.

Fig. 3 : Distribution of steps by seniority Fig. 4 : Average number of steps by seniority


MARS Analysis over seven years

Members of MOMARS (Monitoring of MARS), a subgroup of the SCC, are currently making a comprehensive analysis of staff members’ advancement, studying the case of 1382 staff who were eligible for a periodic advancement during the entire period of the existence of MARS (2007–2013).

Fig. 5 : Total number of steps over seven years Fig. 6 : Total number of steps over seven years (men/women)


Figure 5 shows that the maximum is at 16 steps, but with a broad distribution and without any significant difference between men and women (Fig. 6). In fact, the average number of steps awarded to eligible staff throughout the period in question is 2.25 per year; however, the numbers vary widely according to seniority (Fig. 4).  The Management prides itself on this broad  distribution of the number of steps (ranging from 6 to 31), because it allows a more dynamic career management where merit can be better rewarded (in particular in the case of super-achievers, so-called "high flyers"). On the other hand, the Staff Association is not convinced that this differentiation is favourable for optimal collaboration within teams. In fact, MARS’ criterion is awarding steps to staff who accomplish their job properly (whose performance can be described as "meritorious"). However, during the seven years of MARS existence, we found that more than three-quarters of the staff members are “particular”, exceptional (with a performance qualified as "particularly meritorious"). Therefore, it is not surprising that, eligible staff who received only one step a given year (a minority of less than 25 %) feel singled out and poorly appreciated, which can be de-motivating. So, what are we to say about (non ECE) staff who only received a single step several times over the whole period under study (several dozen according to Fig. 5)? Perhaps the ones mainly concerned are members in the second half of their career, who, however, did not benefit in the first part by an accelerated advancement, as implemented at present (Fig. 4).

Therefore, at least two aspects of the current MARS system should be corrected: the norm ("meritorious") of the number of steps should correspond to the maximum of the distribution and the negative bias toward members in the second part of their career. These improvements, among others, that you selected in your answers to the questionnaire will be discussed with the Management during the preparation for the 2015 Five-yearly review.

General information

The cost of living index (CVI) variation

This is about the implementation of the method described in the second part ("Annual reviews") of the Annex A1 of the Staff Rules and Regulations.

For the basic salary and stipends, the calculation is based on the inflation rate in Geneva (+0.1 %) and on the movements of the real net salaries of Swiss civil servants (+0.5 %) and in seven other Member States (−1.5 %) which gives an overall calculated index for the 2014 CVI  of −0.4 % (updated according to the latest figures of November 2013). Since from the years 2012 and 2013 there was a residual index of −0. 5 %, the Management proposes to official committees to apply a 0 % index (identical salary grid in 2012 and 2013). For the year 2014 exercise, the remaining index will then be negative, −0. 9 %.

With regard to subsistence allowances and family benefits the only reference is the inflation rate in Geneva (+0.1 %). The Management proposes to official committees to apply a 0 % index (no change in 2014 compared to 2012). In this case, the residual for the year 2014 exercise is equal to −0. 2 %.

Voluntary programmes

The long-term saved leave scheme (LTSLS) introduced in early 2012, remains a great success. Indeed, more than 1000 members have participated in it. In (Fig. 7), we observe a substantial increase in the number of those participating in the LTSLS compared to the STSLS, which proves that saving days of leave to be taken at the end of the career is a real need.

Fig. 7 : Number of purchased slices (STSLS and LTSLS) Fig. 8 : Participants in the PTW and the PRI


The progressive retirement programmes (PRP) and the near-retirement part-time work (PTW) are witnessing a decreased success compared to previous years (Fig. 8), but this is mainly due to a demographic effect. In fact, there are far fewer members now in the 58−64 years age group than ten years ago. However, it is important to keep these programmes alive because in a few years, the first cohorts of staff members recruited as of the 1st of July 1987 will reach the 62−64 years age group (these staff will be subject to reduction factors in the pension fund until they reach the age of 65) and will therefore be potentially interested in decreasing their working time as they approach retirement thanks to these programmes.

A crèche at CERN

At the end of August, a crèche was opened as part of the CERN Staff Association Nursery school. For more details, see the article published in Echo: (http://staff-association.web.cern.ch/content/cr%C3%A8che-meyrin-cern-site).

The french version has been published in Echo n° 185.

by Staff Association