Lump-sum payment in case of death - death grant
(1) At its 19th session (March 1958: CO-ORDINATION/R.264, paras. 28-29) CCAQ agreed a schedule of lump-sum benefits to be paid in the event of the death in service of an official with a long-term contract who left a dependent spouse or child. The amounts were set out in paragraph 28 of CO-ORDINATION/R.264 and were to be reviewed if and when the average of survivor's benefits paid by the Joint Staff Pension Fund reached a more adequate level.
(2) At its 23rd session (March 1962: CO-ORDINATION/R.391, para. 111) CCAQ agreed that payment of the benefit should be made to the wife of a deceased official whether or not she was receiving a dependency allowance. If there was no wife (or dependent husband, in the case of a deceased woman official) then payment should be made to any dependent child under 21, or dependent parent, dependent brother or dependent sister, as determined by the executive head.
(3) At its 24th session (March 1963: CO-ORDINATION/R.430, paras. 91-93) CCAQ agreed that:
- the grant should be extended, at ACC rates, to recognized dependants of project personnel who at the date of death held, or had held at any time during continuous service with the organization, an appointment for five years or more; it should equally be payable to those who had had five years or more of continuous service on appointments of less than five years;
- computation of the grant should be based on net salary plus any pensionable allowances;
- the payment might be made to a secondary dependant, but if there were neither primary nor secondary dependants, no payment should be made to the estate.
(4) In the course of the discussions at the 24th session (1963) CCAQ noted that one organization was paying death grant at higher rates than those agreed by ACC. CCAQ hoped that, particularly in view of Pension Fund improvements since 1961, the organization would adopt the ACC rates. All organizations gave an assurance that if the grant were extended to project personnel, as discussed below, ACC rates would be applied. CCAQ also noted that the United Nations, but no other organization, reimbursed national income taxes on this payment. The majority of the organizations thought that there should be no tax reimbursement unless it was clearly established that by law of the country the grant was regarded as income of the deceased official. It was agreed that each organization would inform the others of details of any reimbursement of tax on the death grant.
CCAQ decided at its 39th session in 1974 (CO-ORDINATION/R.1031, para. 56), in the context of removing distinctions in entitlements based on sex, that the grant in case of death should be paid to the surviving spouse irrespective of his or her dependency status (see also section 2.8, para. (22)).
(6) In resolution 3l/141 of 17 December 1976 the General Assembly asked ICSC to propose measures to align the maximum lump sum payable to the dependent spouse or dependent child of a staff member who died in service on the new scale of termination indemnities.
(7) At its 47th session (August 1977: CO-ORDINATION/R.1237, paras. 16-18 and Annex IV), CCAQ approved a paper for presentation to ICSC on the lump-sum payment in case of death. It favoured aligning the two existing schedules of payments, but found no particular rationale for doing so by reference to the schedule of termination indemnities; it suggested that the present schedule of up to 9 months' salary, subject to a minimum of 3 months' salary, might be applied throughout the system. The paper also made proposals on conditions of entitlement. ICSC examined this question at its 6th session (August-September 1977) and decided to defer action until it took up all separation payments (second annual report, A/31/30, para. 19).
(8) ICSC examined the question at its 7th and 8th sessions (1978). It recommended, in line with CCAQ's proposals, a uniform scale for the grant to be paid in the case of the death of a staff member in service who had a one-year appointment or had completed at least one year of service. The grant would be payable to a surviving spouse, dependent children, or recognized secondary dependant (fourth annual report, A/33/30, para. 194).
(9) The General Assembly adopted the ICSC recommendation with the exception that recognized secondary dependants would not be eligible to receive the grant (resolution 33/119, section IV, para. 5).
(10) At its 50th session (Part I) (January 1979: ACC/1979/R.2, para. 23), CCAQ decided to review the relation between death grant and the entitlements of secondary dependants when it examined the variations in rules governing the entitlements of secondary dependants in the context of the Committee's work on harmonization of staff regulations.
(11) At its 51st session (August 1979: ACC/1979/R.55, para. 25), CCAQ agreed to draw the attention of ICSC to the continued divergencies in staff regulations which would result from the failure of the General Assembly to approve the ICSC recommendation in toto. It would then be up to ICSC to seek corrective action.
(12) The General Assembly, by resolution 34/165, requested the Commission to examine the possibility of establishing a contributory death grant benefits scheme. Information was collected by the CCAQ secretariat in spring 1980 concerning the number and value of death grants paid in the last five years by each organization. At its 53rd session (July 1980: ACC/1980/17, paras. 37-39), CCAQ concluded that there was no justification for introducing a contributory system of death grant benefits. Following an in-depth study of the matter at its twelfth session, the Commission concluded that a change-over to a contributory system was not justifiable on the grounds of cost considerations (A/35/30, para. 332) and recommended that no change be made to the present death grant benefits scheme (ibid., para. 334).
(13) In resolution 35/214A, the General Assembly requested "the Commission to keep under review the possibility of establishing a cost-effective contributory system of death grant benefits and to submit the results of the review to the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh session". At its 18th session (July 1983), ICSC concluded that in the light of the organizations' experience this would not be justified, and recommended to the General Assembly that no change be introduced (9th annual report, A/38/30, paras. 108-110).
(14) On the basis of its comprehensive review in 1989 of the conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories, ICSC recommended (A/44/30, vol. II, paras. 73(e), 441-443 and 453 (e)) no change in the terms and conditions for payment of the death grant. CCAQ had concurred in that view (71st session, July-August 1989: ACC/1989/14, para. 89). The General Assembly took note of the recommendation (resolution 44/198).
(15) For determination of the level of death grant, see also section 5.1.