05 - 21 June 2013102nd session of the ILO Conference
10 - 14 June 2013Tripartite Working Group meetings - Review of "H" ...
11 - 12 June 2013Mid-year review of hardship duty stations accordin...
18 - 21 June 2013FICSA capacity building and training programme
15 - 19 July 201360th session of the UNJSPB
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Federation of International Civil Servants' Associations (FICSA)?
Founded in Paris in 1952, FICSA is a federated group of 30 staff associations/unions from organizations belonging to the United Nations common system. Seven staff associations/unions outside the common system have associate status. Eighteen staff associations/unions are consultative members and twenty-six Federations of United Nations Staff Associations (FUNSA) are observers. The diversity of membership ensures that all staff in the field and at headquarters duty stations have the opportunity to exchange views and information about conditions of service; seek the Federation's assistance and support when difficulties arise; and organize collective action.
What does FICSA do?
FICSA fosters the development of the international civil service in accordance with the principles set forth in the United Nations Charter and the constitutions of the specialized agencies. The Federation:
- Defends staff rights
- Ensures that equitable conditions of service for all common system staff are maintained at a level which will ensure the recruitment and retention of the most qualified people
- Contributes to building a positive image of the international civil service
Who are international civil servants?
International civil servants are public sector employees who work for international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Why do they need help to protect their rights?
The organizations for which international civil servants work are sovereign, which means that national labour law does not apply to them. Instead, staff conditions of service are governed by rules and regulations defined by the organizations and approved the Member States that provide the funding for the organizations. If staff have grievances, they cannot bring a case to a national court. Grievances are handled by the organizations and by Administrative Tribunals.
What are these rights?
An international civil servant has the right, among others, to:
- Staff representation
- Participate in joint staff-management bodies
- Recourse and appeal to an internal appeals board and an Administrative Tribunal
- A safe, secure and harassment free working environment
- Evacuation from the duty station during a security crisis
- A contract with defined duration and terms of employment
- An up-to-date post description defining duties and tasks
- A period of orientation to a new post
- Timely and objective assessment of performance
- Advancement and promotion commensurate with the satisfactory discharge of duties and the evolution of the level of their functions
- Participation in the definition and modification of their employment conditions
- Remuneration in accordance with the Organization's statutory right to recruit, retain and motivate staff of the highest competence and integrity
- Certificate of service upon satisfactory completion of contract
- Medical insurance
- Participation in a pension scheme
- Compensation for illness and injury attributable to performance of duties
- Indemnification for loss of personal property on duty travel
- Designated number of holidays
- Sick, annual, maternity, special and study leave
- Per diem, travel costs and terminal expenses on official duty travel
- Compensation upon termination due to a reduction in staff
- Access to personal files
How does FICSA help international civil servants protect their rights?
FICSA informs staff about their rights and works with its members to ensure that the organizations respect those rights. When rights are violated, FICSA organizes demonstrations and meets with the representatives of Member States to ask for their assistance. FICSA has a legal defense fund to launch cases at Administrative Tribunals to defend staff rights.
Does FICSA really have the power to change things?
Yes, FICSA is mandated to participate in the inter-agency bodies that make decisions about conditions of service and is able to influence those decisions. FICSA participates in discussions and presents technical papers to support staff positions.
What are the Federation's greatest achievements over the years?
FICSA's actions have helped staff to:
- Enhance reviews of the internal system of justice and the appeals process
- Improve security in all duty stations, especially for all staff at high-risk duty stations
- Protect the staff/management consultative process
- Preserve staff rights when organizations reform and re-profile
- Enhance the voice of staff in interagency bodies
- Obtain the release of detained staff and provide assistance to their family members
- Change the rules governing contractual arrangements, access to personal files, the definition of dependency
- Successfully challenge proposed cuts in pensions and salaries and secure a more equitable adjustment for pension beneficiaries
- Use legal recourse proceedings to challenge reduction and freeze of pensions
- Improve the content of cost-of-living questionnaires
- Obtain increases in allowances and benefits, e.g., children's allowance, installation grant, hazard pay
- Eliminate deductions from base salary (negative post adjustment multipliers)
- Improve the hardship and mobility scheme
- Extend the rental subsidy scheme to field duty stations
- Provide leave for parents in cases of child adoption
- Secure periodic upward adjustments in the amount of education grant
What are FICSA Councils and when are they held?
A Council of member association/union representatives meets annually to define the Federation's policy. Each year the Council elects an Executive Committee, (consisting of a President, General Secretary, Treasurer and four members) and four regional representatives who are responsible respectively for implementing the Federation's policies and representing the Federation.
The Executive Committee draws up the annual programme of work, based on the decisions and recommendations adopted by Council. Standing committees specialize in General Service Questions, Professional Salaries and Allowances, Conditions of Service in the Field, Social Security/Occupational Health and Safety, Human Resources Management and Legal Questions.
What other meetings does FICSA participate in?
FICSA works primarily with the following interagency bodies and with the Fifth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which has the final say in determining conditions of service for all common system staff.
CEB: the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination comprises the executive heads of UN system organizations and is chaired by the UN Secretary-General.
HCLM: the High Level Committee on Management is the principle inter-agency body for coordination in the administration and management areas. HLCM is composed of senior representatives with responsibilities in administration and management from member organizations and authorized to take decisions on behalf of their Executive Heads.
HR Network: the Human Resources Network is a subsidiary body of HLCM, comprised of HR professionals.
Task Forces: subsidiary machinery of HLCM set up to consider specific issues, e.g. UN Cares, which addresses the issue of HIV/AIDS in the UN workplace.
ICSC: the International Civil Service Commission is mandated to establish or recommend and coordinate many of the conditions of service of common system staff. The UN General Assembly appoints the fifteen members of the Commission from outside the UN system.
FICSA has observer status in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB), a tripartite body that administers the Pension Fund. Board members consist of representatives of Member States, administrations and participants.
Does FICSA have a special mandate to represent staff interests at these bodies?
Yes, FICSA is recognized in the ICSC Statute to represent staff interests. That recognition serves as the mandate to work with the other inter-agency bodies.
Who are the members of FICSA?
Select the following categories of members to view the complete listings:
- Member Associations and Unions
- Members with Associate Status
- Inter-organizational Federations with Observer Status
- Associations with Consultative Status
Can my organization become a member of FICSA?
To become a member of FICSA, a staff association or union is invited to send a letter to the FICSA secretariat in Geneva, explaining the reasons for its desire to become a member, and attach its statutes and information about how many staff it represents and the dues structure. The Executive Committee reviews that information and if the Committee so recommends, the members will vote on the request.
What are the benefits of FICSA membership?
FICSA has a large network of experts. FICSA members count in their ranks experts around the world who provide up-to-date advice and training to the membership to ensure that they have the right tools to help themselves.
FICSA provides vital information. The FICSA members and its network of observers provide the opportunity for consultation and exchange of information on a broad range of issues: salaries, allowances, pensions, security, contracts, grievance procedures, legal questions, gender issues, occupational health and safety, etc.
FICSA has access to key decision-makers. The Federation addresses the United Nations General Assembly and the General Conference of the International Labour Organization. FICSA lobbies national decision-makers in major world capitals, and meets with the Executive Heads of international organizations.
FICSA leadership yields results. The many initiatives taken by the Federation since its creation in 1952 have advanced the position and voice of staff in their organizations. FICSA stands for a string, united, dynamic, effective and independent international civil service.
What other services does FICSA provide?
FICSA puts staff first. The Federation is dedicated to promoting greater awareness of the unique working world of international public servants and the special demands made on them by working in an increasingly dangerous and complex world.
FICSA has strategic vision. The Federation continuously reviews and develops positions on the challenges confronting the changing international public service, which is facing increasingly exacting governing bodies and administrations. FICSA is committed to protecting and furthering the rights of all international public service employees.
FICSA supports fundamental labour rights. The Federation is dedicated to obtaining recognition of basic labour rights for international public servants: fair, equitable and predictable conditions of service; freedom of association; collective bargaining and negotiation; and due process and judicial review.
How much does FICSA membership cost?
Dues are calculated based on the number of staff of the organization, the category of membership and the total budget approved by Council. The FICSA secretariat will calculate the dues upon request.
Can individual staff members become members?
No, only staff associations and unions can join FICSA.
Can I financially support the Federation's work without becoming a member?
Yes, FICSA accepts donations in kind and financial donations.
What are salary surveys and why are they useful?
Salary surveys are carried out periodically to determine the salaries of staff in the General Service and related categories. The survey looks at the best prevailing salaries paid by comparator employers in the duty station.
What are salary survey workshops?
FICSA offers training to staff and staff representatives on how to carry out a salary survey. Staff and their representatives receive the skills and knowledge needed to participate in Local Salary Survey Committees.
Does FICSA offer training in other areas?
FICSA offers training on job classification, post adjustment and Professional salaries.
Who can participate in the training?
Any staff member recommended by a staff association or union may participate, even staff from associations that are not members.
How much does it cost?
Participants from FICSA members are not charged a workshop fee, but they are responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs. Participants from non-member associations are charged $300 for one participant and $500 for two participants. They are also responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.
When and where are the workshops?
FICSA organizes between 6 and 8 workshops a year. Information about the venues is posted on the website around two months prior to each workshop.
Is it possible to register through the website?
Yes, workshop registration is processed online. More information.
I am an international civil servant...Can FICSA help me directly?
In most instances, FICSA refers individuals first to their own staff association or union for assistance. If the association is unable to find a solution, they are welcome to ask for the Federation's help.
I have a problem with my supervisor or employer...Can FICSA help me?
Individuals are requested to seek the assistance of their own staff representatives. If a solution is not forthcoming, a member staff association may ask FICSA for assistance.
Does FICSA provide legal advice to individuals?
FICSA has access to the services of an attorney and will provide assistance if the request is made by a member staff association or union.
I have a question about my pension entitlements. Can FICSA help me?
Questions about pension entitlements should be addressed to the local Pension Committee. The website of the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund addresses many of the questions that staff are likely to ask.
I have a question about paternity leave. Can FICSA help me?
Questions about individual entitlements should be addressed to the HR professionals in each organization, or to the staff association or union. If a reply is not forthcoming, the FICSA secretariat will provide assistance.