The Staff Union aims to establish a permanent local joint committee to monitor the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and to increase local knowledge among staff on pension-related issues.

The UN Joint Staff Pension Board

The 63rd session of the UN Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB) was held in Vienna from 14 to 22 July 2016. 

Ahead of this meeting, almost 15,000 staff signed a petition calling on the Board to:

  • refuse the new financial rules that pave the way to remove the fund from the UN and allow further outsourcing of investments;
  • protect the independence of fund staff by rescinding a new human resources policy that would remove oversight of promotions and use of retired staff;
  • pay new retirees on time.

The petition generated considerable discussion at the Board. However, having been made aware of your petition, it then unanimously decided the following:

  • to approve the new financial rules (although we were able to remove certain provisions that would have allowed decisions on the awarding of large contracts to go around the established competitive procedures);
  • to not reverse the new human resources policy; and
  • to provide a positive evaluation of the fund's CEO, despite new retirees not being paid on time over the last year.

However, at our initiative, the Board accepted a proposal that newly retiring staff not paid on time  would receive provisional  payments. This is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough (it does not introduce an obligation to make such payments, contrary to what we proposed, and the delay stretches to three months instead of 30 days). At the same time, it is the closest the Board has come to acknowledging the problems with its new IT system called IPAS.

So there were some small improvements, which would never have happened without support of staff, but we still have a long way to go.

Against this, the Board for the first time:

The strength of feeling behind the petition also led to a town hall for staff in Vienna. At the packed meeting:

  • A number of staff called into question the trustworthiness of the Fund's leadership.
  • The CEO claimed the backlog for payments had been cut to 700. The Fund's own website puts the figure at between 1,700 and 5,800 (depending on the methodology used). At the same time the CEO admitted that payments would not return to normal until 2017.
  • The CEO blamed the backlog in part on additional workload due to a "surge" in the downsizing of peacekeeping missions. He failed to mention the offer of assistance made by UN administration at the start of 2016 to help process these claims.
  • The CEO told staff that there were "no plans" to outsource investments to Wall Street. In actual fact, the Fund outsources 14.75 percent of its investments, a figure later confirmed by the head of investments. This figure is an increase from previous years. A separate document shows these outsourced investments to include positions in arms and tobacco (
  • The previous Chair of the Fund assured staff that the Fund owed its healthy position in part to contributions made by participants being twice the current payments to retirees. In reality, as confirmed by the annual report, contributions are around the same level as payments. In time, as retirees exceed contributors, payments may exceed contributions. It is not a time to be complacent.

Looking ahead, it is clear that the Fund is facing a number of challenges in terms of leadership, governance, investment performance and its ability to pay retirees. In addition, further evidence has come to light regarding:

  • the UN's reduced oversight of the Fund's investments; and
  • the inability of the Fund's auditors, more used to auditing governments and international organizations, to understand the unique challenges of a pension fund.

There is some good news. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of staff unions to increase the retirement age to 65, despite opposition by many organizations, the Fund now has an actuarial surplus of 0.16 percent, where previously it was in deficit. Unfortunately, the Fund's current investment underperformance may tip this back into negative territory.

Staff Unions will be taking these concerns to the General Assembly in the fall, as the GA has to approve any of the decisions made by the Board. At the GA the Unions will also make clear staff's concerns on the mismanagement of the Fund and the gradual steps being taken by the Board to remove the Fund from the UN. It is only by having a Fund that is firmly within the UN, with staff that share our same long-term interests, that we can ensure the security of our retirement.

We also wish to thank the operational staff of the Fund, who have been working hard in difficult and stressful circumstances over the last year.

Devaluation of the United States dollar and the financial crisis

In the last years, many staff expressed concern about the value of the pensions paid in euros given the decreasing value of the United States dollar and about the impact of the financial crisis on their pensions. Our Staff Union has significantly increased its effort by joining CCISUA (our Federation) in sending a global expert in pension matters to the meetings of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board. As the Board looks into the future of the Fund in detail, the Staff Union will, through CCISUA, continue to follow the subject and to support participants' representatives on the Board. Full information concerning UN pensions, including early retirement, can be found in the latest versions of the Regulations and Rules of the UNJSPF

Mandatory Age of Separation

Effective 1 January 2018, the Mandatory Age of Separation is now 65 years of age for all staff members (see Staff Regulation 9.2,

Staff members who were slated to separate at the age of 60 or 62 after 1 January 2018 will continue to retain their rights to separate at their previous Mandatory Age of Separation. That is, these staff members could still opt to separate at the age of 60 or 62, or at any time between the ages of 60 or 62 and the new Mandatory Age of Separation of 65, respectively.

Staff members who reached their Mandatory Age of Separation (MAS) on or before 31 December 2017, and who were exceptionally retained in service beyond their MAS of 60 or 62, will not have their MAS reset to 65. The Mandatory Age of Separation of these staff members will remain the same and they will be required to separate from the Organization at the end of the period of their exceptional extension.

When a staff member decides to separate after the age of 60 or 62, at any time prior to reaching the Mandatory Age of Separation of 65, staff members holding a fixed-term or a permanent/continuing appointment, will be required to provide, at a minimum, a one or three months' notice, respectively.

The new Mandatory Age of Separation will not affect a staff member's separation benefits, including retirement benefits, under Article 28 of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and the After-Service Health Insurance.

Please visit the FAQs on the Mandatory Age of Separation for more details on its implementation.

After-Service Health Insurance (ASHI)

Staff members who were insured with Van Breda, may continue their health coverage after retirement and part of their premiums continues to be paid by the United Nations. For those insured with the Wiener Gebietskrankenkasse (WGKK), coverage ends on separation from service. However, it is possible to make arrangements for continuing coverage if you are staying in Austria as follows:

Coverage in WGKK will end on the staff member's separation from service. However, if he or she intends to remain in Austria without coverage by another insurer and wishes to continue coverage in WGKK, he or she has to apply within six weeks after the date of separation for self-insurance coverage ( Selbstversicherung) so that coverage can continue without interruption. The application for Selbstversicherung must be made personally at any Bezirksstelle or at the main office of WGKK. If the application for Selbstversicherung is not made within six weeks of separation but at a later date, the person will not be eligible for any benefits for the first six months of coverage.

Under certain conditions, staff members who separate on account of retirement or disability and survivors of staff members who die in service, may continue in WGKK as after-service coverage.

For detailed information regarding both schemes please contact the HRMS Social Security Office (Mail to:

Joint committee on Pension issues

In Vienna, we have asked the administration to agree to the establishment of a joint committee on pension issues, possibly as a subcommittee of the Joint Advisory Committee, to enable UNOV/UNODC staff, who are not represented on the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund because they are represented by the UN Secretariat, to remain updated with regard to the evolution of the Joint Staff Pension Fund. Such a joint committee would also advise staff and management on pension-related issues. We hope that a joint committee will be established before the end of 2010.

We need to continue to monitor the impact of the global financial crisis on our pensions. If anything can be learned from the history of staff-management relations in the United Nations system, it is that the Organization is not immune from global financial upheavals. When revenues fall in Member States, those who have, for some time now, been calling for efficiency measures within the United Nations will only become more vocal. The impact this had on pensionable remuneration in the 1990s, and the response of the staff, should serve as a lesson in the current climate.

We need to increase local capacity to monitor pension-related issues and be able to provide specific advice to our representatives on the Joint Staff Pension Board. However, we lack the kind of technical expertise and exposure to the substantive documents that other organizations have (staff and management of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have their own representatives on the Board). In addition, there is the need to inform staff about pension-related matters. We hope that this situation will improve with the establishment, as mentioned above, of a joint local committee.

Retiree's Associations

United Nations system staff members who choose to retire in Austria, together with retirees of other Vienna-based Organizations within the UN system, may become members of the Association of Retired International Civil Servants, Austria (ARICSA) (mail to: The primary aim of the Association is to promote and protect the rights and the interests of retired international civil servants and their immediate family members. The Association holds two general meetings per year, at which pension, health insurance and other matters of interest are discussed. The President of the Association has an office at the VIC (room C0249B, Tel: 01 / 2600-25116).

An organization with much broader scope is the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS) located in Geneva. In addition, there is a larger retiree organization in other European countries such as France, Italy and Switzerland. One of these is the Association of Former International Civil Servants (AAFI-AFICS). Membership in AFICS is open to active as well as retired staff of all organizations within the UN system. AFICS publishes a Bulletin in English and French several times a year to keep its members informed. Additional information is available with ARICSA's office.

©2018 UNOV Staff Union