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Equality trumps Equity

Updated: Feb 13



Written by: LE CARRE Nicolas Edited by: CONEFREY Helen Published by: THAKKAR Sumeet

EN Current administrative rules have a disproportionate impact on lower-paid staff: Does our Administration promote a caste system? Well, unfortunately the answer all too often is yes… the majority of our administrative decisions are based on treating all staff equally as a fundamental principle and simply fail to look at the equally important issue of equity and the social impact of measures based on the different salary scales for each staff category. Let’s take a concrete example which many of us have witnessed in EU Delegations: Installation allowance: This is a lump sum payment foreseen to cover expenses when an expatriate is posted to a Delegation. The aim of this allowance is to help with additional costs incurred during the first months of a posting in a new country where a wide range of purchases are needed to settle down as quickly as possible (eg.: a fridge, TV, etc. as many of us know, often the voltage is different than in Brussels or other non-EU countries where we have been based so we are obliged to buy new electrical items). Currently this allowance is calculated on the basis of the staff member’s basic salary, which as you can imagine, differs hugely from AD 12 to CA II or AST-SC and is the following : · two months’ basic salary for officials entitled to the household allowance who settle with their family or part of their family; · one month’s basic salary for officials who are not entitled to the household allowance or for entitled officials settling without their family.

Surprise, surprise; this effectively means that those on a higher salary receive a much higher installation allowance to purchase the same items than those staff in rotation/mobility and who are on considerably lower incomes (CAs, AST, AST-SC).

Current administrative rules have a disproportionate impact on lower-paid staff: We all know that air quality is increasingly coming under scrutiny at our places of work. Staff need to know that the EEAS and the Commission are ensuring safe living and working conditions. Despite this and for some unknown reason air purifiers are generally neither reimbursed nor purchased by the institution but it is clear that for many they are an absolute necessity especially in developing countries where air pollution is dangerously high.

Currently air conditioning units are foreseen as standard equipment in many houses for expatriates, but air purifiers are not. When queried, our Administration has often replied that the installation allowance must be used for this purpose and that air purifiers should be bought individually. This may be a workable solution for those on higher salaries but for those on lower salaries, this is clearly an unfair burden. Imagine the AD 12 official with no dependents and their ability to purchase one or more purifiers for their accommodation versus the CA II colleague with children who may only be able to purchase one purifier for the entire accommodation. Let us start treating all staff fairly and stop perpetuating inequalities between staff that are far from justified in a modern administration! USHU believes a fairer system should be introduced as a social imperative! Staff on lower salaries are clearly discouraged by the current, unfair approach and many feel they cannot bring their families. We are convinced that higher paid staff also fully recognise the need for a fairer approach and are openly willing to support lower paid staff. A lump sum averaging the minimum and maximum basic salaries plus a percentage per dependent would put everyone on a more even footing. This would make EU Delegations more attractive for colleagues of all salary levels including those with dependents considering a work experience in an EU Delegation. We believe this is a win-win proposal, which is financially viable and would ensure a much fairer approach for all. More staff would consider working temporarily in a third country at a time when both the EEAS and the Commission have difficulties in attracting colleagues to EU DEL. USHU wants to contribute towards workable solutions.

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