Retirement age - age of mandatory separation

Statutory age of retirement is the age at which staff members can retire with the full retirement benefits they have acquired according to the Regulations and Rules of the UNJSPF. It is at present (January 1992) age 60 for all participants in the Fund at 31 December 1989 and age 62 for all those entering or re-entering after that date (article 28a). Age of mandatory separation is the age at which staff members shall not be retained in active service, unless otherwise decided by the executive head. That age is determined by the staff rules (or regulations, or statute) of each organization, with the exception of FAO. It is presently (January 1992) age 60 in all organizations for staff who entered service before 31 December 1989; it is 62 in FAO and, for staff members entering service after 31 December 1989, in all other organizations.

(1) At the 14th and 15th sessions (1953 and 1954: CO-ORDINATION/R.142 and R.162) CCAQ discussed the retirement age and recommended that ICSAB should be asked to study the matter; the Board did so in 1956 (CO-ORDINATION/CIVIL SERVICE/7-20 April 1956).

(2) In 1961, following the revision of the Pension Fund Regulations (see section 6.1, para.

(3)), the Secretary of the Pension Board asked CCAQ if organizations were interested in there being a possibility for early retirement between the ages of 55 and 60 (as proposed by Pension Review Group). All organizations replied in the affirmative (22nd session (first part): January and March 1961: CO-ORDINATION/R.351, para. 64). (3) In 1963, ACC suggested to ICSAB (ICSAB/XI/2) that the Board might wish to re-examine the questions of retirement age in connection with a study of "career prospects".

(4) ICSAB decided in 1969 to consider the subject at its XVIIIth session and to re-examine its 1964 recommendation concerning a scheme for early retirement between ages 55 and 60 for staff with 25 years of pensionable service. CCAQ at its 31st session (1970: CO-ORDINATION/R.798, paras. 21-23) agreed the text of a report which (a) made no proposals for changing the statutory age of retirement, but suggested that the Board might wish to recommend that individual officials should, subject to competence and to the discretion of the executive head, be retained beyond the statutory age to a greater extent, particularly as regards highly qualified specialists recruited at a late age; and (b) endorsed the 1964 recommendations of the Board on early retirement (see ICSAB/XVIII/R.5).

(5) At its 33rd session (March 1971, CO-ORDINATION/R.863, para. 27(b)) CCAQ recommended that representatives of executive heads on the Joint Staff Pension Board should support proposals to allow optional retirement at the age of 55 with 25 years of pensionable service, without substantial reduction of benefits. The actuarial cost should be covered by liberalizing policy regarding extension of competent staff beyond normal retiring age.

(6) The Joint Staff Pension Board in 1971 recommended, and the General Assembly agreed, in 1971, that participants with 25 or more years reckonable service should be able to retire at or after age 55 with a reduction in their pension of 2% for each year by which their age at retirement was less than 60.

(7) At its 57th session (July 1982; ACC/1982/23, paras. 96-100) CCAQ considered the issue of the age of mandatory separation, anticipating that a raise in that age might form part of a package of measures, to be considered by the Pension Board, and designed to alleviate the actuarial imbalance of the Fund. CCAQ agreed that it favoured retention of the present age of mandatory separation (60), although some organizations indicated that 62 would be acceptable. If the present age was retained most organizations felt that extensions beyond that age should be possible.

(8) At its 58th session (March 1983, ACC/1983/9, paras. 104-105) CCAQ heard a statement by the Secretary of the Pension Fund outlining ways of overcoming objections to an increase in the age of mandatory separation from 60 to 62. The Committee reaffirmed the view expressed at its previous session pending completion by ICSC of a study on all aspects of retirement policy.

(9) At its 59th session (July 1983; ACC/1983/18, paras. 80-84) CCAQ reviewed the ICSC's study of retirement policy (ICSC/18/R.25) and reconfirmed its position, as set out at its previous two sessions, on the question of raising the age of mandatory separation.

(10) In its 9th (1983) annual report (A/38/30, paras. 151-169) ICSC's views on raising the age of mandatory separation to 62 were divided, the majority of members feeling that there were no compelling reasons from the viewpoint of personnel policy to envisage such a raise. Other members considered that a staged increase was desirable. ICSC decided by a majority not to recommend any change to the General Assembly.

(11) By resolution 40/244 (1985), the General Assembly requested the Commission to re-examine the question of the age of mandatory separation from service. At its 65th session (July 1986: ACC/1986/10, paras. 113-114), CCAQ reconfirmed its position, which was conveyed to the Commission. The Commission decided at its 24th session (A/41/30, para. 152) to defer further consideration of the question until a more appropriate time. The Pension Board took note of the Commission's decision at its special session in September 1986 (JSPB/36/R.6, para. 23).

(12) At its 26th session (July 1987), the Commission confirmed that it intended to revert to the issue at a more appropriate time and expressed the view that the mandatory age of separation should meanwhile be applied as strictly as possible (A/42/30, para. 32).

(13) At its 30th session (July-August 1989: A/44/30, vol. I, paras. 54-58), ICSC decided to recommend to the General Assembly and the legislative bodies of the other organizations that the mandatory age of separation for new staff members be increased to 62. This recommendation, subsequently commended by the General Assembly to the attention of the governing bodies of the organizations (resolution 44/198, section III A), arose from a decision of the Pension Board to increase the normal retirement age under the Pension Fund regulations from 60 to 62 as part of a package of measures to reduce the actuarial imbalance of the Fund. CCAQ, at its 71st session (July-August 1989), had limited itself to taking note of the Board's recommendations (ACC/1989/14, paras. 118-120).

(14) The new age limits were introduced by all organizations (see the introductory note to this section).

(15) At its thirteenth session of 2007 (CEB/2007/HR/8, paras. 13-21), the HR Network noted the draft JIU Report on the “Age structure of Human Resources in the Organizations of the United Nations system” and agreed to raise with ICSC and the UNJSP Board the question of the mandatory age of retirement.  It took note that many national public administrations were raising the mandatory retirement age to take account inter alia of economic and social change.

(16) At its 2007 spring session, HLCM was also briefed (CEB/2007/3, paras. 84-85) on the recent conclusions of the HR Network regular session of 14-16 March that encompassed the following key issue, among others:

    The JIU report on Age Structure. The Network had discussed the recommendations of the JIU report on Age structure in the organizations of the UN system.  Members had agreed that each organization should have the flexibility to determine the right age structure, in relation of its mandate. In the next 5 to 10 years most organizations would be losing a high number of staff at the P5 and above levels.  Hence, the importance of succession planning.
    The Committee endorsed the above substantive priority of the HR Network.
(17) At its seventeenth session (CEB/2009/3, para.41), the Committee took note of the various issues on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the HR Network, as outlined in her briefing by the Network Spokesperson, and looked forward to receiving for consideration and approval the Network’s final recommendations on “Mandatory age of retirement in the UN system”.

(18) At its seventeenth session (CEB/2009/HLCM/HR/27, paras.17-19), the HR Network agreed that more work needed to be done to the document (CEB/2009/HLCM/HR/6) to make the business case for the change of retirement age; Was of the view that there was not a sufficient, compelling reason to increase the mandatory age of retirement to 65 at this time; Agreed to approach the change in a phased manner and further agreed to the following proposal:

    “60” Staff member whose entry on duty is prior to 1 January 1990 has the option to retire at 60 or to extend to 62
    “62” New mandatory age of retirement for all staff irrespective of their date of entry on duty.
    “65” Executive Heads have authority to extend staff member’s age of separation to 65 if such extension were to be in the interest of the Organization.

The HR Network noted that three organizations had reservations regarding granting to staff with an EOD prior to 1 January 1990 an automatic option to extend to 62 without the agreement of the Executive Head and agreed on a short preliminary presentation to the Commission at its Spring Session including the above proposal.  However, the CEB Secretariat would continue to work with the consultant to finalize the document prior to the ICSC Summer Session when it would be presented.

    NOTE: Subsequent to responses from HR Network Directors to the draft document on “Review of the Mandatory Age of Retirement in the UN Common System”, further amendment to the above-mentioned proposal was made on 28 April 2009 (see below)

    "60" Staff member whose entry on duty prior to 1 January 1990 would still retire at 60 or may request to remain until 62 subject to the agreement of the Executive Head.
    "62" Mandatory age of retirement for staff member whose entry on duty is on 1 January 1990 or after.
    "65" Executive Heads have authority to extend staff member’s age of separation to 65 if such extension were to be in the interest of the Organization

(19) At its eighteenth session (CEB/2009/HLCM/HR/46/Rev.1, paras.5-7), the HR Network reached a consensus to revise the proposal presented in the document ICSC/69/R.2.  The revised proposal would state that “all current staff members’ mandatory age of separation will be 62 by 1 January 2012”.  However staff with Pension Fund affiliation prior to 1 January 1990 would retain the right to retire at age 60 with full retirement benefits, or remain until age 62. The Network further agreed to review the possibility of increasing the mandatory age of separation to 65 for all staff members across the system after the UNJSP Board conducts its actuarial study in 2010. The Network would also look at options for phased/flexible retirement and report to the Commission in 2010 and agreed to present the following revised proposal during the ICSC Session:

    Revised proposal
        1.    All current staff members’ age of separation will be at age 62 by 1 January 2012.
        2.    Those staff members currently eligible to retire at 60 will retain that right with full retirement benefits or remain until the age of 62.
    It should be noted that a few organizations expressed concern with the proposal to extend the current mandatory age of separation for those staff members with entry on duty prior to 1 January 1990 from 60 to 62 due to current operational requirements.
    In addition, the HR Network agreed to review the possibility of raising the mandatory age of separation to 65 for all staff members once the Pension Fund has completed its actuarial study in 2010. Furthermore, the Network will also examine innovative and flexible modalities to mandatory age of separation such as phased/flexible retirement, part-time work and other approaches.  The Network will report to ICSC by the end of 2010 with further proposals on this matter.

   The Commission requested its secretariat, in cooperation with the organizations and the Pension Fund, to prepare a comprehensive report on the possibility of changing the mandatory age of separation, taking account of its various implications in the human resources and pension areas referred to in paragraph 14 of the ICSC Report (A/64/30), and decided to revert to this issue at its seventy-second session.

(20) At its eighteenth session (CEB/2009/6, paras.39-41), HLCM considered the UN Joint Staff Pension Board’s recommendation, at its fifty-sixth session, that “given the impact that increasing longevity will have on the financial situation of the Fund, its [Working Group on Plan Design] would need to consider the emerging trends in personnel policies further and possibly in conjunction with the normal retirement age provisions”, and that “such issues would require close consultations with ICSC and the HLCM”.

    HLCM considered the preliminary recommendations of the HR Network regarding the possibility of raising the mandatory age of separation, and decided that such recommendations should be further reviewed in light of the results of the forthcoming actuarial study to be carried out by the UN JSPF Board., i.e. after the financial sustainability of the Fund is quantified and a more detailed assessment is made of whether financial sustainability considerations should be driving changes in the mandatory separation age.
The Committee requested member organizations to consult and nominate a few representatives to participate in the UNJSPF Working Group on Plan Design, and to provide the requested policy guidance to the Pension Board, prior to finalization of its work on this subject. Nominations should be forwarded to the CEB Secretariat.

(21) At its nineteenth session (CEB/2010/3, paras.81-83), the Committee thanked IFAD and ILO and noted that organizations should work towards the development of a common position on the important matter, which is retirement age.

(22) At its twentieth session (CEB/2010/5, paras.135-139), HLCM agreed to form a working group that would review, also in consultation with the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, all aspects of the issue, including innovative and flexible modalities in applying the mandatory age of separation, as they would be developed by the HR Network, and submit the results of its work to the next session of HLCM and; Requested the CEB Secretariat to undertake consultations with member organizations on the composition of the working group and to establish it as soon as possible. In this respect, HLCM noted with appreciation the availability of WFP to provide leadership and support to this work. 

(23) At the 21th session of HLCM in Paris, UNESCO (CEB/2011/3, paras. 39-45), member organizations concurred that the issue of mandatory age of separation was a complex issue and all factors should be looked at carefully.  While a long term view of the financial implications must be considered, a concurrent analysis of organizations’ human resource priorities, such as the rejuvenation of the workforce and staff profiles required to reflect evolving needs, was also required.

    The Committee thanked the working group and the CEO of the UNSJPF for his comprehensive presentation.  It urged all organizations to complete in an objective manner the questionnaire prepared by the working group; took note of the work undertaken up to date and looked forward to the working group’s final recommendations at the next session of HLCM in the fall of 2011.

(24) At its twenty second session in Washington D.C. (CEB/2011/5, paras.166-174), the Committee took note of progress in this work and requested the Working Group to finalize its report by the end of December 2011 and submit it to the Committee for review, finalization and submission to ICSC following the HLCM’s 23rd session.

  • Human Resources Network (HRN)