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5-yearly review: an important milestone

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Since the last Bulletin update in February, an important milestone was passed in the context of the five-yearly review(5YR) when the conclusions of key documents were presented at the Tripartite Employment Conditions Forum on 28 May 2021.

Following the methodology set out in Annex A1 of the Staff Rules and Regulations, studies and surveys of the financial and social conditions of CERN personnel have been undertaken to ascertain, firstly, whether the Organization remains an attractive employer for Staff and Fellows from all CERN’s Member and Associate Member States and, secondly, whether it is able to offer adequate conditions to Associated Members of Personnel (MPAs) coming to work for limited periods in its research facilities.

Staff salary studies are a mandatory part of the 5YR and are preceded by an analysis of CERN’s main recruitment markets over the past five years. As provided for by the Annex A1 methodology, these studies involve benchmarking ‘local’ and ‘international’ salaries in order to compare CERN salaries, through a representative sample of benchmark jobs across all grades, with the respective local2 and international markets.

The local salary survey, covering grades 1 to 3, was performed by a local consultant and concluded that the companies offering the most competitive salaries are located in Geneva and Vaud, where salaries are, on average, 8% below CERN’s reference salaries.

The international salary survey, covering grades 4 to 10, was performed by the International Service for Remunerations and Pensions (ISRP), which is administratively attached to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). An analysis conducted by the HR department in preparation of the 5YR in 2020 identified the high-technology private sector as CERN’s main recruitment market. The ISRP then identified Switzerland and Germany as the CERN Member States offering the most competitive salaries in that domain. The main conclusion of the ISRP survey is that, overall, salaries in the Swiss high-technology market are approximately 9% above CERN salaries, whereas CERN is approximately 5% above the German high-technology market.

Given the breadth and diversity of the salary surveys and of the process in general, the HR department is currently compiling a dedicated webpage3, for future publication, to guide and inform you on the details and conclusions of this key aspect of the 5YR.

Fellows’ stipends were compared with similar graduate programmes at ESA, ESO, the European Commission, DESY and EMBL. The analysis concluded that the conditions offered by CERN continue to be attractive, and are indeed somewhat higher than those paid by the comparator organisations.

For MPAs, the subsistence allowances have been consistently indexed to the cost of living in the local region.

Finally, the ISRP was mandated to conduct a diversity and inclusion benchmarking survey of CERN and eight other organisations: EMBL, EPO, ESO, ESA, EC, ITER, UNOG and OPCW. The findings of this survey, covering topics such as contract type, age, family, gender diversity, spouse employment, teleworking and disability measures, were presented to TREF in March. The report showed that CERN is doing very well in certain areas, such as childcare and some of the diversity-related policies stemming from the previous 5YR, but identified other areas where further improvement is desirable, such as gender diversity, the telework framework, flexible working hours, co-parenting leave and dual-career opportunities. The Management, in collaboration with the Staff Association, is fully committed to following up on the results of this survey to ensure that diversity and inclusion are not limited to actions once every five years, but are under continuous review.

As we enter the final stages of the 5YR process, based on the aforementioned analyses and the corresponding conclusions, the Management’s proposals are now under preparation, in concertation with the Staff Association, and will be submitted to TREF in October and to the Council for approval in December.

As this extensive exercise nears completion, we will be sure to report back to you on the latest developments.


1 For full details of the 2021 5YR, its scope, timescales and milestones see: https://hr.web.cern.ch/5yr-2021.

2 For the local salary survey data are collected in the local region of the Organization (Geneva, Vaud and neighbouring France).

3 For full details of the 2021 5YR salary surveys see: https://hr.web.cern.ch/5YR2021-FAQ.