Articles: News

ILO Arts Circle Virtual Exhibition 2021

Category : News

Introduction to the exhibition

The ILO Arts and Decoration Circle has been backed by the ILO Former Officials Section for many years. As well as generating artefacts and items of value, artistic activity also helps foster personal development.

Owing to the pandemic, the organization of exhibitions has been curtailed across the world. With the support of a number of Office departments, the Arts Circle has always staged an annual exhibition in the ILO Colonnades. The Circle hopes the exhibition will return there as soon as possible.

Some Circle members have expressed a wish to present their work in virtual form through the use of new technologies, though aware this can never replace a real exhibition. The format has the added advantage of enabling them to keep in touch with each other. Other members have stressed how difficult it is to be creative in a time of pandemic; we know how they feel.

See shots of Circle members’ creations on this web page.

François Kientzler
ILO Arts and Decoration Circle

Update of the return to the office (Geneva ILO headquarters) – 6 July 2021

Category : News

This communication provides an update on the plans for a progressive and safe return to the office of staff at ILO headquarters, which, as previously announced, will start on 2 August 2021.

The positive evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, with reduced levels of contamination and broad access to vaccinations, has allowed further lifting of restrictions in Switzerland and neighbouring France.

I am pleased to say that this situation creates the conditions for welcoming a progressive return of all staff to office, in order to continue our full services under normal conditions of work, while ensuring a safe environment for all staff and visitors present in the building.

Organization of the return to office

All staff who have received medical clearance will return to office as of 2 August 2021, based on the following conditions.

  • The total number of people simultaneously present in the building at any given time will be limited to the maximum safe capacity that respects the requirements of the local health authorities.
  • All directors (D1 and above) will return to the office on a 100% basis.
  • All staff who need to be in the office to perform functions that cannot be done remotely, based on exigencies of the work, nature of the role and responsibilities, will also return to the office on a 100% basis.
  • Managers will need to apply transparency, fairness and equity in distribution of work among staff members performing the same functions and required to be present on site. Work schedules will be developed in consultation with the staff, taking into account the needs of the department or unit and periods of staff leave.
  • Additional staff in departments providing essential services and client support services on premises may be required to be present in the office on a full-time basis to support increased staff presence and activities in the building, to respond to emergencies and to work on projects requiring their presence. These colleagues will be contacted by their managers.
  • All other staff will return to office on a rotational basis, alternating 50% presence at the office and 50% teleworking, regardless of their role or grade. This includes staff in individual offices and staff in shared offices. Exceptionally, some staff in open space offices may be required to telework for more than 50% of the time.
  • Staff members who consider that they cannot work from home for personal reasons can request a return to the office on a 100% basis through HRD (
  • Staff currently authorized to telework out of the Geneva duty station will be required to return to it as soon as possible and no later than 13 September 2021.
  • Following the return to office on 2 August, the regular teleworking procedures as set out in IGDS 141 will apply to all staff at headquarters, taking into account the mandatory 50% teleworking where applicable. Any future adjustments to flexible working time are being negotiated through the established procedures with staff representatives.
  • Individual arrangements for staff presence and rotation, including the frequency of rotation, will be coordinated by department directors in consultation with staff. Further information and guidance to assist in this task will be provided to directors.

Medical clearance

  • Only staff who have received medical clearance will be authorized to return to office.
  • Staff who have not been cleared previously will receive a notification from MEDSERV asking them to inform MEDSERV confidentially about their status, using the online medical declaration portal. MEDSERV will review this information to determine if clearance to return to office can now be granted.
  • Staff who have been medically cleared but whose circumstances have changed should contact MEDSERV ( for advice.
  • All medical matters will be dealt with by MEDSERV on a strictly confidential basis.

Vaccination status 

  • The Office strongly encourages all eligible staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination will not be a condition for the return to office.
  • All staff will be invited to report their vaccination status confidentially to MEDSERV, using the online medical declaration portal. This reporting is not mandatory, but staff are encouraged to do so. The aggregated data will help inform safety measures as we go forward. A separate communication will be issued with further information.

Safety and health measures

  • The highest priority will continue to be given to the safety, health and well-being of staff. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, comprehensive safety and health measures will continue to apply at the headquarters building, and staff are expected to follow the indications on the signage on offices and meeting rooms carefully.
  • Please remember that you should continue to follow physical distancing and hygiene guidance, wear a mask in all common and shared areas, and that you should stay at home if you feel unwell. These measures will continue to apply even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Further updated details on the safety measures in the building, including special arrangements for the meeting rooms, cafeteria and car parks, will be available on the intranet.

The Office will continue to monitor the situation carefully, in consultation with the WHO and the other Geneva-based UN agencies.

We thank all staff for your continued commitment and will keep you fully informed of progress as we enter this new and welcome phase.

Greg Vines


Reply of the ILO HRD Director (16 June 2021) to the letter of the Bureau of the Former Officials Section

Category : Message68 , News

Dear Mr Kientzler,

I refer to your letter of 9 June 2021 and would like to start by thanking you for the role that you and the Bureau of the Former Officials Section have played and continue to play in the context of the current pandemic. Your efforts and initiatives to facilitate contacts between the Office and the community of former officials have been much appreciated, especially in this difficult context.

We look forward to welcoming you and all former colleagues to the Office as soon as possible. However, unfortunately, we are not yet at the end of the tunnel. The policy measures taken in the wake of Covid-19, including widespread access to vaccination, have significantly improved the situation, but the pandemic remains.

The ILO’s senior management continues to monitor the Covid-19 situation closely and to make decisions based on the local epidemiological situation, the recommendations of the WHO and the host country and in consultation with other UN agencies. As always, the Office gives the highest priority to the safety and health of staff and visitors, including our former colleagues.

The latest decisions by the Swiss authorities confirm the gradual reopening in the country. However, teleworking continues to be recommended, and an increased return to the office is only possible under strict, specific conditions, including weekly testing of all staff who are present, reflecting the ongoing risks associated with the pandemic.

Taking all these factors into account, the Director General has decided to maintain the existing restrictions on access to the headquarters building. In addition, mandatory teleworking will continue to apply to all ILO headquarters staff until 2 August 2021.

During the interim period, the Office will develop updated policies and plans guiding the return to the office which will be communicated to all staff. As part of these arrangements, I anticipate that it will be possible to grant access for you yourself to work in the Section’s office, as was the case during the partial return to the office in 2020. However, due to the planned occupancy limitations, which are required for security and health purposes, it is unlikely that access will be granted to other members of the Bureau, with the exception of a deputy able to visit the office in your absence. In any case, these aspects will be considered in more detail once the new back-to-the-office policies are implemented.

With regard to the other issues you have raised, I would like to provide the following clarifications.

Regarding the entry badges of former officials, I confirm that the expiry date indicated on the badge does indeed remain in force. Therefore, when – and only when – the office premises are open to external visitors, badge holders will have to go to the accreditation office to have their badges renewed. For your own badge, renewal can be arranged during one of your visits to the office, as mentioned above.

As for communications sent out by the SHIF, I would like to confirm that, as already explained by the Fund’s Executive Secretary, all relevant information has continued to be distributed in hard copy by post to all retired insured members. In this connection, I wish to take this opportunity to ask for your help in continuing to promote the use of SHIF Online within the pensioner community, as this tool can greatly improve the level of services they get from the SHIF as well as the speed of their reimbursement. I would also like to inform you that an English-language webinar dedicated to reimbursements will be organized by the SHIF on 1 July at 2pm (CEST) for all insured members (active and retired) to explain the measures taken by the Fund in the context of the pandemic. Invitations will be sent out in due course and I count on your cooperation in encouraging the pensioner community to attend this important event, where they will have the opportunity to ask the SHIF team specific questions.

Regarding the reception for retired officials, I have taken note of your request and would like to assure you that the Office will continue to organize this event as usual, as soon as the health situation returns to normal and the premises of the Office can be safely used to hold large-scale meetings and events. Based on the current situation, however, it does not seem likely we can envisage organizing such an event before the end of this year.

With regard to the pre-retirement seminar, I would like to inform you that this activity was organized for ILO staff in autumn 2020 in virtual form and with a very reduced programme. In the spring of 2021, the seminar was again organized in virtual form in cooperation with UNOG and other agencies, and we are planning to offer our staff additional sessions this autumn. We will keep you informed of the dates of these sessions.

I would also like to thank you for the assistance provided by the Bureau of the Former Officials Section on matters relating to the Pension Fund. Owing to the closure of the UNJSPF premises, the ILO Pension Unit is receiving a growing number of enquiries from retired officials and their families, which we are unable to answer. It is therefore of the utmost importance to inform the pensioner community that enquiries concerning the Pension Fund for former ILO staff members, retirees, beneficiaries, survivors and family members should be addressed to the Pension Fund’s offices in Geneva or New York and that the ILO Pension Unit is not in a position to deal with their after-service pension issues.

In conclusion, let me assure you that the Office remains committed to a strong partnership with the Bureau of the Former Officials Section. We just need to be patient and continue to follow strict security measures to overcome the challenges of the pandemic together without placing any of our colleagues or former colleagues at risk, in order to return to a normal working environment as soon as possible. During this period, my team and I remain at your disposal for any virtual discussion and exchange of information you may require.

Yours sincerely,

André Bogui, Director

Broadcast ILO 1 June 2021

Category : News

This communication provides an update on plans for the return to office of staff at headquarters.

As previously announced, the Office continues to prepare for the return of all Geneva-based staff to office as soon as conditions allow.

COVID-19 policy measures, including the widespread access to vaccination, have brought significant improvements to the situation, but the pandemic remains present. 

The ILO senior management continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation carefully and to make decisions based on the local epidemiological situation and recommendations of the WHO, the host country and in consultation with other UN agencies. As always, the Office gives highest priority to ensuring the safety and health of staff.  

The latest decisions by the Swiss authorities confirm the progressive reopening of social and economic activity in the country. However, teleworking continues to be recommended, and an increased return to office is only possible with specific strict conditions, including the weekly COVID testing of all staff present, reflecting the ongoing risks associated with the pandemic.

Taking all factors into account, the Director-General has decided that mandatory teleworking will continue to apply to all staff at ILO headquarters until 2 August 2021.

During the interim period, updated policies and plans guiding the return to office will be finalized and communicated to all staff. 

The ILO senior management will review the situation again in late June or when new information becomes available. 

Regardless of the teleworking status at headquarters, managers are requested to encourage staff to finalize plans for summer leave in a coordinated manner to ensure business continuity.

On behalf of the Director-General, I would like to thank all staff for their flexibility and understanding as we adapt together to an evolving situation and prepare for this new phase in our response to the pandemic.

Greg Vines


Tribute to International Civil Servants by the FAFICS

Category : News

In 2019, the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS), on a proposal from the Association of Former UNESCO Staff Members (AFUS), enthusiastically accepted at the 48th Session of its Council that a Tribute to past and present generations of international civil servants be prepared at the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and many other institutions of the United Nations system, including UNESCO. At the request of the AFUS, the drafting of the text was entrusted to it by FAFICS.

The preliminary document drafted by AFUS was communicated in January 2020 to the 63 Associations of the Federation whose contributions were incorporated into the Draft. On December 9, 2020, at the close of its 49th Council Virtual Session, FAFICS unanimously and by acclamation adopted the Tribute reproduced below.


Covid-19 : Information

Category : News

Statement of the ILO Workers’ Group on vaccine equity

Download the statement

Extension of teleworking for staff at HQ until at least 4 May 2021

The Director-General has decided to extend the current mandatory teleworking arrangements for staff at headquarters until at least 4 May 2021.

Following the decisions of the Swiss authorities to maintain COVID-19-related restrictions announced on 19 March 2021, the Director-General has decided that the current mandatory teleworking policy will remain in place for staff at ILO headquarters until at least 4 May 2021.

The arrangements and timing of the return of ILO staff to the office will be subject to the evolution of the pandemic and any further decisions by the Swiss and French authorities. Further announcements are expected to be made by the authorities in mid-April and we will update staff on return to office arrangements at that time.

As previously, those staff whose presence is required in the office for a specific purpose prior to 4 May will be informed by their manager.

Requests for exceptional access to the HQ building will continue to be considered in accordance with the current procedures.

We recognize that this extended period of teleworking and continued uncertainty are a source of anxiety for many staff. The Office continues to give the highest priority to the safety and well-being of staff, and we ask all colleagues to continue to take care of your own health and that of others around you at all times.

Covid 19: How do I get the vaccination in France? / Intranet ILO: update of 10 of March

Staff living in France
  • ILO staff, dependents or retirees living in neighbouring France with a valid Swiss carte de legitimation may register for vaccination in Switzerland. The telephone hotline (0800 909 400) should be used until international insurance cards are recognized by the online system. The hotline takes into account specific requests for appointments, but only for people who meet the criteria for priority access to vaccination.​​
  • Retirees or dependents of staff living in France without a legitimation card will not have access to Swiss vaccines and should be vaccinated through the French system. They are included in the planning of the French authorities and will benefit from the same measures as those planned for the population and in the same order of priority.
  • As of 14 January, vaccination will be available for people aged over 75 and frontline/health care worker​s, and it will be progressively available for other parts of the population. ​​Reservation is possible by phone or via the website

Further information

In Switzerland and in France, vaccination will be provided free of charge to residents and staff of international organizations in Geneva. In other cases, SHIF will reimburse the cost of the vaccine at 100%.

Covid-19: border workers and residents will have to present a certificate at the French border

Message from the ILO Director General of January 13, 2021

You can see the ILO Director-General’s speech to staff on January 13, 2021 here :

Information from the SHIF on the Covid-19 vaccine

Campagne de vaccination France/Pays de Gex