Sustainable development

The new year begins with some important changes for members of the CERN personnel. The measures proposed by the Management following the five-yearly review of employment conditions, which were approved by the Council in December 2015, will be implemented gradually. What changes can we expect?


The aim of the five-yearly review is the pursuit of excellence across all of CERN’s activities. This is not just a hollow slogan but a joint commitment made by all those involved: the Management, the personnel, as represented by the Staff Association, and the Member States. The five-yearly review is a painstaking and complex process: every five years, the employment conditions of the CERN personnel are examined to evaluate whether the Organization continues to attract, retain and motivate personnel of the highest competence and integrity, as required for the execution of its mission. “As in every five-yearly review, we compared our employment conditions with those in the Member States,” explains Anne-Sylvie Catherin, head of the Human Resources department. “Specifically, we examined the salaries offered by industry, which is our main recruitment market, and for other employment conditions we looked at other international organisations. The aim of the review is to adapt certain employment conditions to ensure that CERN continues to offer its personnel the best possible conditions in the present context.”

Preparations for the 2015 five-yearly review began in 2011, with a survey of the personnel carried out by the HR department, followed in 2013 by a survey of staff members by the Staff Association. These two surveys allowed the priorities to be identified as well as pinpointing the issues that were the most important for the personnel. “Thanks to the results of these surveys, we were able to focus our efforts on the subjects that were really close to the hearts of the personnel,” confirms Anne-Sylvie. “Motivation and financial conditions came out on top, but they weren’t the only concerns: we also noted that diversity and social conditions were considered to be very important.”

As a result, although there is no change in salaries, the career structure has been made clearer and more effective and, above all, emphasis has been placed on diversity matters, in particular the recognition of registered partnerships and the balance between professional and private lives, for example through teleworking (see the box below for more details). “Given the current economic climate, we decided to adopt a measured and rational approach, which was appreciated by the Member States,” explains Anne-Sylvie. “In collaboration with the Staff Association, we tried to be inventive in order to come up with a balanced package, reconciling the main expectations of the personnel with those of the Member States and protecting the Organization’s long-term interests.”   

Following the successful outcome of this process and the approval of the measures by the Council, the updated employment conditions should ensure that the Organization can continue to develop sustainably. Do you still think that the five-yearly review doesn’t concern you? Read the box below for an overview of the new measures before you come across them in EDH (new types of leave), in the Admin e-guide (detailed explanations) and during your MARS appraisal (as of 2017).

The five-yearly review in brief

  • Career structure: From 1 September 2016, the career structure will be rationalised and the career progression process clarified. As of 2017 (appraisals based on reference year 2016), MARS will be simplified and salary steps will be replaced with a new system combining salary progression within a defined structure and a performance payment. A “personal development conversation” will also be introduced, providing a forum in which to discuss professional development aspirations.
  • Diversity: Among other measures, as of January 2016, people in a registered partnership have the same rights as married couples; also, standard paternity leave has increased to ten days and maternity leave has become more flexible. The balance between professional and private lives has also seen improvements: the conditions of the Saved Leave Scheme (SLS) are now more attractive and the teleworking scheme has become more flexible. In addition, increased flexibility has been introduced for events that many of us might face at certain points in our lives, such as the birth of a child or the illness of a close relative.

All of the details and procedures will gradually be added to the Admin e-guide and EDH. To find out more, don’t miss the public meeting for the personnel organised by the HR department at 2 p.m. on 11 February in the Main Auditorium.  


by Antonella Del Rosso