Human Resources Department: 2017 annual report on the settlement of disputes and discipline

Introduction 

The Annual Report under Chapter VI (“Settlement of Disputes and Discipline”) of the Staff Rules and Regulations serves to report on:

  • requests for review; 
  • internal appeals;
  • complaints before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILOAT); and
  • cases in which disciplinary action was taken. 

Requests for review and internal appeals 

Under Article S VI 1.01 of the Staff Rules, members of the personnel may challenge an administrative decision by the Director-General where it adversely affects the conditions of employment or association that derive from their contract or from the Staff Rules and Regulations. 

If permitted by the Staff Rules and Regulations, a decision may be challenged internally within the Organization: 

  • through a review procedure; or
  • through an internal appeal procedure. In this case, the Joint Advisory Appeals Board (JAAB) shall be consulted by the Director-General prior to taking any final decision on the merits.

Disciplinary Action

Under Article S VI 2.01 of the Staff Rules, the Director-General may take disciplinary action against members of the personnel who, whether intentionally or through carelessness, are guilty of a breach of the Staff Rules and Regulations.

Article S VI 2.02 of the Staff Rules stipulates that, having regard to the gravity of the breach or misconduct in question, the disciplinary action may be: 

  • a warning;
  • a reprimand; 
  • suspension without remuneration or pay for a period not exceeding six months; 
  • downward adjustment of the staff member’s salary; 
  • demotion; 
  • dismissal.

The Director-General shall consult the Joint Advisory Disciplinary Board (JADB) prior to taking any disciplinary action other than a warning or a reprimand (Article S VI 2.04 of the Staff Rules) or summary dismissal for particularly serious misconduct (Article S VI 2.05 of the Staff Rules).  In the latter situation, the Director-General may decide to dismiss without notice and without consulting the JADB.

Complaints before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILOAT)

A decision may be challenged externally by filing a complaint before the ILOAT:

  • when internal procedures have been exhausted and the decision is final; 
  • when an internal challenge is not permitted by the Staff Rules and Regulations; or
  • when the complainant is authorised to proceed directly to the Tribunal.

 

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Requests for review:

From 1 January to 31 December 2017, there were four requests for review of administrative decisions taken by the Director-General.

  • Four staff members requested a review of the decision to qualify their performance as “fair” for the reference year 2016. 

Internal reviews were carried out by the Human Resources Department, following which the Director-General decided to maintain the decisions.

Internal appeals:

From 1 January to 31 December 2017, sixteen internal appeals were examined by the Joint Advisory Appeals Board (JAAB). 

  • Between 2016 and 2017, 14 internal appeals were submitted against the decisions taken by Council in 2015 as a result of the five-yearly review of financial and social conditions. All 14 appeals challenged the decision to modify the career structure and salary grid and the corresponding individual notifications. In addition, two out of these 14 appeals challenged the decision not to increase the level of salaries in January 2016.

By mutual agreement, a number of these appeals were temporarily suspended pending the outcome of the 2017 MERIT exercise and the confirmation of benchmark job titles. Hearings before the JAAB took place between February and March 2018.

The Director-General decided to follow the JAAB’s recommendation to reject the appeals but to initiate career reviews for a number of the appellants concerned. In addition, the JAAB made further general observations and suggestions concerning the implementation of the new career structure, which will be studied by the Director-General.

  • Two staff members introduced internal appeals against the decision to qualify their performance as “fair” for the reference year 2016.

In both cases, the Director-General decided to follow the JAAB’s recommendation to confirm the Organization’s original decision.  

  • One staff member introduced an appeal against the decision to discontinue their affiliation to the Organization’s health insurance scheme beyond the date of termination of contract, further to the staff member’s resignation from the Organization.

The Director-General decided to follow the JAAB’s recommendationto confirm the Organization’s original decision.

Warnings and reprimands:

In 2017, the Organization issued three warnings and two reprimands, as follows:

  • A warning was issued to a staff member for anonymously diffusing information intended to undermine a colleague’s professional integrity and unnecessarily surveying a colleague’s work.
  • A warning was issued to a staff member for inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour towards a colleague and demonstrating a lack of hierarchical and professional responsibility.
  • A warning was issued to a staff member for inappropriate behaviour at the workplace and making distasteful jokes in front of colleagues.
  • A reprimand was issued to a User for the unauthorized use of CERN fuel.
  • A reprimand was issued to a staff member for directing orders to a limited number of suppliers and concealing quotes resulting in the potential detriment of fair competition between potential suppliers.

The Joint Advisory Disciplinary Board (JADB): 

  • From 1 January to 31 December 2017, the JADB was convened to examine two cases, both concerning the fraudulent use of a team account:

- one procedure resulted in a decision by the Director-General to impose two disciplinary sanctions upon a staff member: demotion by one grade and downward adjustment of salary to the midpoint of the new grade. 

- the other procedure resulted in the Director-General’s decision not to impose any disciplinary sanction against the staff member, following the Board’s conclusions that the conduct did not constitute a breach of the obligations under the Staff Rules. 

  • Also, the Director-General made decisions concerning ongoing disciplinary proceedings launched in 2016 concerning declarations by two staff members under the CERN Health Insurance Scheme. In both cases, following a finding of misconduct by the Board, a downward salary adjustment of 4% of the midpoint grade was imposed and the staff members were requested to reimburse the fund.

Dismissal notified during the probation period:

In 2017, one staff member was notified of the termination of their employment contract due to insufficient performance during the probation period (as per Article S II 5.01 g of the Staff Rules).

Particularly serious misconduct:

In 2017, a User’s behaviour was deemed particularly serious misconduct as per Article S VI 2.05 of the Staff Rules and, consequently, the contract of association was terminated at the foreseen expiry date without renewal. This was further to the outcome of a fraud investigation involving repeated theft of fuel from the Organization for personal gain.

Complaints before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILOAT):

In February 2017, a former staff member who is in receipt of a total disability pension filed a complaint with the ILOAT against the decision not to recognise the illness as being of occupational origin. The Tribunal’s ruling is expected in summer 2018.

The ILOAT ruled in two cases involving the Organization, each of which had been filed in 2015: 

  • In a case filed by a former CERN fellow whose contract was terminated for serious misconduct, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Organization and dismissed the complaint.
  • The other case was filed by a beneficiary of the CERN Pension Fund seeking:

- recognition of two children who were not previously registered with the Pension Fund and in respect of whose parentage there was ongoing litigation; 

- confirmation that the beneficiary’s current spouse (the marriage to whom had taken place after retirement) would be entitled to receive a surviving spouse's pension, notwithstanding the legislation in place.

The Tribunal upheld the position of the Organization. It determined that, with regard to the children, the request was irreceivable as a final decision could not be taken by the Fund on the basis of disputed documentation. It dismissed the claims regarding the spouse.

 

 

HR Department