What the proposed UN compensation changes mean for you

By Kelli Rogers 04 November 2015

Flags in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York. If the proposed modernizations to the U.N. compensation package are approved, it would hit single parents hard, as well as geographically mobile staff, staff in the field and staff with working spouses. Photo by: JC McIlwaine / United Nations

In early August, the International Civil Service Commission convened in Vienna to determine a “simplified, modernized, fit-for-purpose” compensation package for the United Nations system. Instead, the independent expert body, established by the U.N. General Assembly, presented a “complicated, pieced-together package,” according to one source close to the matter who wished not to be named.

A review meant to modernize the compensation system has “bowed to political pressure from certain member states bent on cutting costs,” U.N. Staff Union President Barbara Tavora-Jainchill told Devex.

While the proposal is sprinkled with a few positive aspects — mostly the unchanged parts, she said — if approved it would hit single parents hard, as well as geographically mobile staff, staff in the field and those with working spouses who currently receive supplemental income by virtue of their children.

The proposed changes have generated plenty of internal buzz, and an online petition, “Protect U.N. humanitarian aid workers: Reject cuts to pay and family leave,” has more than 10,000 signatures. Human resources representatives from UNICEF, UNOPS and UNDP declined to comment to Devex on the proposal, although it’s widely known that chiefs of several agencies, including UNICEF, the World Food Program and UNHCR, have jointly voiced their concern that the pay changes are not “fit for purpose” in terms of meeting the U.N.’s ambitions for a more diverse staff and increased mobility.

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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