The issue of Pensions in International Organizations

Article posted by Griet Houbrechts

The 2019 AHRMIO annual conference is in a few days. As usual every year we address topical issues in the HR industry and get various perspectives and insights from our audience who come form diverse international organisations. Ahead of the event, one of our members, Janine Rivals, Honorary Vice-President of AMFIE, sheds some light on a burning topic – “Pensions”:

As I have travelled extensively almost round the world for AMFIE for many years, I can get an overview of some problems which affect most IGOs nowadays.

I am worried about the increasing number of non-staff in most institutions, primarily in those which belong to the UN System.

In a major UN specialised agency in Europe, already 72% of the employees are non-staff (consultants, short-term, special contracts etc.) sometimes for many years.

The phenomenon is perhaps a little less obvious in European organisations in general, with exceptions, for example one IGO where one-third of employees are consultants!

All these people with different types of contracts all have one thing in common: No pension!!!.

In some organisations, staff members with regular contracts have a provident fund, but at the end of their contract, they are given a fat cheque, but no pension!

AMFIE has been aware of this phenomenon, due mainly to budgetary constraints requested by Member States, and for several years, has tried to find a solution, and set up a Provident Savings Plan, called PEP (Plan Epargne Prévoyance), with a big Luxembourg insurance company (La Bâloise) which can serve both as a additional pension scheme for staff members who don’t have enough years with the UNJSP, or as a full individual pension scheme, for those who have none. It is very flexible, can be continued if the person leaves the IGO and goes into the private sector, but it cannot be disbursed either as a lump-sum, or in annuities for life, before the age of sixty, since it is meant for retirement. A lump sum from an IGO can be the seed money and is often used that way.

Luxembourg is very attractive for pension schemes, because of its Triangle of security, unique in the world, whereby the contributions of the members are segregated from the assets of the company and are fully protected.

I think that this is the sort of thing an assembly of HR officials should be aware of and preoccupied by, according to the principle of the « duty of care », or simply because staff welfare is within their responsibilities.

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