The 2015 five-yearly review


This year CERN celebrates its 60th anniversary. On this occasion, throughout Europe — most recently on July 1st at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris — festivities are being organized to celebrate the Organization’s success as a flagship laboratory of high-energy physics.
To ensure that CERN can remain a centre of excellence in the field of fundamental research, the Organization verifies every five years with the help of a five-yearly review procedure whether the financial and social conditions which it proposes to Staff Members allow it to recruit and retain Staff Members of the highest competence and integrity required for the execution of its mission from all its Member States. For Fellows these conditions should remain attractive compared with those in comparable research institutions, while for Associated members of personnel these conditions should allow it to host them in its research facilities taking into account the highest cost-of-living level in the local region of the Organization.

First step completed


The procedure for a five-year review is specified in Appendix A 1 of the Staff Rules and Regulations. The first step in the five-yearly review in 2015 was just completed with the unanimous approval of CERN Council on 19 June 2014 of the document CERN/3125:
- Management’s Proposal identifying the Financial and Social Conditions to be Reviewed.
This document was accompanied by the following three reports:
- Report on Recruitment Markets for Staff Members (CERN/3122)
- Report on Recruitment and Retention of Staff Members (CERN/3123)
- Report on Comparator Research Institutions for Fellows (CERN/3124)

These four documents had previously been discussed in TREF on 7 May 2014 and in the Finance Committee on 18 June 2014.
The Figure shows the different steps of the 2015 five-yearly review, with several meetings of TREF, and the final decision on the final Management proposal by the CERN Council in December 2015.

 Management Proposal

In the document CERN/3125 Management proposes to review the following financial and social conditions:
 - basic salaries for Staff Members;
 - stipends for Fellows;
 - subsistence allowances for Associated members of personnel;
 - the CERN career structure;
 - diversity-related social and financial conditions;
 - five-yearly review method (should the need arise after assessment at the end  of the current exercise).
The first three points are the mandatory part, while the last three points correspond to the optional part of this five-yearly review.

CERN career structure

The current career advancement system, MARS (Merit based Advancement and Promotion System), was introduced as a result of the 2005 five-yearly review. One of its main aims was optimizing opportunities for rewarding performance, in particular by reducing the value of the level to give more weight to the recognition component of merit. However, according to surveys conducted by the Organization and the Staff Association amongst the staff, for a majority of staff and managers MARS does not increase motivation, while using up a lot of resources. Therefore Management believes that the use of resources should be optimized to get an optimal return on investment and an increased motivation of the staff. At the same time the system of job classification at CERN will be adapted to better take into account the Bologna-based European higher education system.


As a result of the 2005 five-yearly review some family-friendly measures were introduced. In parallel, the evolution of society was also taken into account. For example, CERN has recognized same-sex marriages, provided that they are officially recognized by a Member State and that this recognition is acceptable to the authorities of at least one Host State. Moreover, for staff members and fellows the Organization also recognized opposite-sex and same-sex partnerships if they were officially registered in a Member State or an associate Member State. However, the only benefit available to such partnerships was the health insurance coverage. Today, ten years later, and taking into account developments in the Member States on societal matters, Management intends to examine how to extend the rights of partners to other areas.
It is also proposed to study other aspects of diversity, such as structures adapted to the needs of families, in particular for parents with young children, spouse/partner employment, and aspects of work/life balance (different types of leave, working time arrangements, etc.). Improvements in these areas will contribute to making CERN more attractive to candidates from all Member States.

Data collection and analysis


During the summer and autumn of 2014, Management will collect data on the various points retained in document CERN/3125 and start their analysis.

According to Appendix A 1, data on salaries for staff must be collected from employers that recruit from the market identified in the document CERN/3122. For career paths AA to B, the data must be collected from employers established in the local region of the Organization that offer salaries that are among the most competitive. The data collection will be entrusted to a local salary survey company. For career paths C to G, the data must be collected from employers established in the Member States that offer the most competitive salaries. Data on salaries will be collected from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

As stated in the document CERN/3124 the data on stipends for Fellows will be collected by CERN from the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO).

For subsistence allowances for Associated members of the personnel, the data collection will be limited to an analysis by CERN of the evolution of the cost-of-living in the Geneva area.

For the optional subjects, career structure and diversity, data will be collected by CERN from intergovernmental organizations that offer financial and social conditions that are among the most competitive, e.g., ESA, the United Nations, or the European Union.

From its side, the Staff Association, based on the results of our 2013 survey, our public meetings and our contacts with other international organizations will conduct its own analysis and advance its proposals in the coming months. We will keep you regularly informed on our work through a series of articles that will appear in the coming months in Echo and in public meetings, a first series is scheduled for September 30 and October 3. In any case, before taking a position on an important subject we will consult the staff so that you will be able to give your opinion.

by Staff Association