Consultants and individual contractors
The Under-Secretary-General for Management, pursuant to section 4.2 of Secretary-General’s bulletin ST/SGB/2009/4, and for the purpose of implementing General Assembly resolutions 51/226, 53/221, 59/266, 59/300, 65/247, 67/254 A and 67/255, hereby promulgates the following:
Purpose and scope of application
1.1 The Secretariat utilizes temporary assistance in order to respond quickly, flexibly and effectively to organizational priorities. The present instruction sets out the provisions applicable to individual contracts that are issued to consultants and individual contractors.
1.2 The provisions of the present instruction are applicable to members of panels of experts that are established by the Security Council, except where the guidelines for the recruitment and administration of consultants serving as experts on sanctions monitoring bodies established by the Security Council stipulate otherwise. The present instruction is also applicable to individuals with specific expertise who volunteer their services to the United Nations for no fee.
1.3 The General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors (annex I) apply to consultants and individual contractors and will be incorporated into their individual contracts.
1.4 Institutional or corporate contracts are not governed by the provisions of the present instruction.
The following definitions apply for the purpose of the present instruction:
(a) A consultant is an individual who is a recognized authority or specialist in a specific field, engaged by the United Nations under a temporary contract in an advisory or consultative capacity to the Secretariat. A consultant must have special skills or knowledge not normally possessed by the regular staff of the Organization and for which there is no continuing need in the Secretariat. The functions of a consultant are results-oriented and normally involve analysing problems, facilitating seminars or training courses, preparing documents for conferences and meetings or writing reports on the matters within their area of expertise on which their advice or assistance is sought;
(b) An individual contractor is an individual engaged by the Organization from time to time under a temporary contract to provide expertise, skills or knowledge for the performance of a specific task or piece of work, which would be short-term by nature, against the payment of an all-inclusive fee. The work assignment may involve full-time or part-time functions similar to those of staff members, such as the provision of translation, editing, language training, public information, secretarial or clerical and part-time maintenance services or other functions that could be performed by staff. An individual contractor need not work on United Nations premises.
Conditions for contracting
Terms of reference
3.1 Heads of departments, offices and missions are responsible for ensuring that detailed terms of reference describing the work to be performed are prepared well in advance of the engagement of the consultant or individual contractor and submitted in a timely manner to the executive or administrative office for processing.
3.2 The terms of reference are mandatory and shall form part of the individual contract. The terms of reference shall include the outputs to be delivered and the functions to be performed. The outputs and functions shall be specific, measurable, attainable, results-based and time-bound and include:
(a) Tangible and measurable outputs, objectives and targets of the work assignment, as well as specific activities to achieve the required outputs and targets;
(b) Specific delivery dates and details as to how the work must be delivered (e.g. electronic submission, hard copy). The dates and details shall be subdivided into “milestones” where appropriate;
(c) Indicators for the evaluation of outputs (including timeliness, achievement of goals and quality of work);
(d) Name and title of the supervisor(s).
3.3 Consultants and individual contractors may be engaged only when the following conditions are met:
(a) The assignment is of a temporary nature and the outputs are measurable and the tasks capable of being performed and completed within a limited and specified period of time (see sects. 5.7 to 5.9);
(b) The need for the required services cannot be met from within the current staff resources of the Secretariat owing to a lack of specialized knowledge and/or expertise or capacity;
(c) The services performed clearly relate to programmed or mandated activities in the work programme of the department or office concerned and/or special legislative or programming decisions;
(d) Where an individual contractor is temporarily engaged to perform duties and functions similar to those of a staff member, a clear strategy is in place for a long-term regular staffing solution.
3.4 Consultants and individual contractors may not be engaged:
(a) As a means of applying a probationary period to candidates prior to offering them a staff appointment;
(b) Where any representative, certifying, approving authority and/or supervisory responsibility would be required.
3.5 Consultants shall not perform the functions of regular and continuing staff members. Consultants and individual contractors shall not be involved in decisions affecting the status, rights and entitlements of staff members.
3.6 The services to be provided by consultants or individual contractors should not duplicate work or activities already done, being done or about to be done by other individuals, departments or offices of the Secretariat.
Contracting of former and retired staff members
3.7 A former or retired staff member may be engaged on an individual contract subject to the following provisions:
(a) A minimum of a one-month break is applied between separation or retirement of the former or retired staff member and reengagement on an individual contract, unless the separation was on mutually agreed terms, in which case the former staff member may be reengaged on an individual contract only after a period of 36 months from the date of separation from service;
(b) The former or retired staff member is not reengaged to perform the functions of the same post from which he or she separated or retired or contracted to encumber the position from which he or she separated or retired;
(c) The former staff member did not separate from the United Nations or another organization of the United Nations common system for any of the following reasons: abandonment of post, misconduct, dismissal, non-renewal or termination of appointment for unsatisfactory service, and/or resignation in lieu of disciplinary action;
(d) There are no other qualified and readily available candidates to perform the required functions, and the engagement of the former or retired staff member with the Secretariat will not adversely affect the career development opportunities of existing staff members.
3.8 The reengagement of a former or retired staff member is subject to clearance by the Office of Human Resources Management.
3.9 The fees payable to a former staff member shall not be based on the level of remuneration that he or she held before separation, but rather on the nature and complexity of the assignment performed, subject to the limitations specified in section 3.10 below.
3.10 The contracting of a retired staff member who is in receipt of a benefit from the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, is subject to the following restrictions:
(a) He or she may not be hired for more than six months per calendar year;
(b) He or she may not receive more than $22,0001 per calendar year in emoluments from the United Nations common system (calculated as the gross amount of the fee, but not including travel and daily subsistence allowance payments);2
(c) He or she may not be contracted at a higher equivalent level than that at which he or she separated from the organization concerned.
Contracting of family members and spouses
3.11 Individual contracts shall not be issued to a person whose father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother works for the Secretariat as a staff member or in a
3.12 Spouses of staff members may be contracted simultaneously on individual contracts, provided that:
(a) They are fully qualified for the assignment and were selected in accordance with the competitive selection process requirements as stipulated in the present instruction;
(b) They are not superior or subordinate in the line of authority to their spouse, or where a conflict of interest could be perceived because of the nature of the work;
(c) They are not participating in any review or decision-making process that affects the status or entitlements of their spouse, or vice versa.
3.13 Spouses of heads of departments, offices and missions may not be engaged as consultants or individual contractors in the same department, office or mission.
Contracting of staff members on special leave
3.14 Staff members on special leave without pay remain staff members and, therefore, may not be engaged on individual contracts at their original or any other duty station or department, office or mission.
Restrictions on reemployment as a staff member
3.15 In accordance with section III.B, paragraph 26, of General Assembly resolution 51/226
, the offices responsible for the processing of the individual contracts are required to inform the consultants and individual contractors that they are not eligible to apply for or be appointed to any position in the Professional and higher categories and for positions at the FS-6 and FS-7 levels in the Field Service category within six months of the end of their current or most recent service. For such positions, at least six months need to have elapsed between the end of an individual contract and the time of application and consideration for an appointment as a staff member under the Staff Rules and Regulations of the United Nations.
4.1 Rosters of consultants and individual contractors should be utilized where available
, as they provide easy access to a screened pool of individuals with a relevant track record. Candidates maintained on any roster should be screened for qualifications, references and prior work experience. Owing to the particular needs of the various offices of the Secretariat, every department, office and mission is required to develop its own roster of consultants and individual contractors based on its requirements. Executive, administrative or human resources offices shall start developing these rosters through the appropriate openings in the electronic platform provided for this purpose by the Office of Human Resources Management and shall keep them centrally in the department, office or mission, including for monitoring and audit purposes.
4.2 When the services of a consultant or individual contractor are needed for more than six months, an opening shall be posted in the electronic platform provided for this purpose for a minimum of seven working days by the department, office or mission.
4.3 In the process of selecting a consultant or individual contractor, heads of departments, offices and missions are responsible for instituting competitive selection procedures. The competitive selection procedure can take several forms, including the evaluation of individuals identified from a roster of qualified individuals maintained by the executive, administrative or human resources offices, through the issuance of a consultancy or individual contractor opening in the electronic platform provided for this purpose, through the department, office or mission website or through any other appropriate means. For each assignment, every effort shall be made to shortlist for consideration a minimum of three candidates from the widest possible geographical basis. Travel costs may be considered but may not distort the geographical balance in the awarding of contracts.
4.4 In order to ensure that all required information on candidates is on file, all consultants and individual contractors, including former staff members and retirees, are required to complete an application form as stipulated by the Secretariat, regardless of whether they have submitted a curriculum vitae for consideration.
4.5 In the final selection, careful scrutiny of the terms of reference, the competitive cost and the quality of work, as well as the qualifications, competencies, expertise and experience of all suitable candidates and any potential conflict of interest, should be taken into account. The final selection shall be based on pre-established evaluation criteria.
4.6 A technical evaluation report must be attached to the contract on file, showing the applicants reviewed and the basis on which the successful candidate was selected (see annex V).
Exceptions to the competitive selection process requirement
4.7 On an exceptional basis, the head of department, office or mission may engage a consultant or individual contractor even though he or she was the only candidate considered, provided a reasoned and documented justification for such exception is recorded prior to the selection.
Verification of credentials, qualifications and experience
4.8 Prior to the issuance of a contract, the processing department, office or mission shall verify the academic and professional credentials of the candidate recommended for selection by conducting appropriate reference checks. For that purpose, the requesting official shall submit contract proposals sufficiently in advance of starting dates to allow for the completion of the verification requirements.
Certification of good health
4.9 Before commencing work, a consultant or individual contractor shall submit a statement of good health and take full responsibility for the accuracy of that statement, including confirmation that he or she has been informed of the inoculations required for the country or countries to which travel is authorized. Consultants and individual contractors shall assume all costs that may occur in relation to the statement of good health. No certificate of good health is required when the consultant or individual contractor works solely from home for less than 30 days.
4.10 Consultants and individual contractors who are required to travel beyond commuting distance to any duty station(s) with a hardship classification other than H and A shall also certify that their medical or health insurance covers medical evacuations and treatment.
Contractual terms and conditions
5.1 Consultants and individual contractors shall be engaged under individual contracts entered into by the Organization directly with the individual concerned.
5.2 The General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors (annex I) apply to all consultants and individual contractors, independent of the value of their contract. The General Conditions may not be changed or modified.
5.3 Consultants and individual contractors shall not commence work or travel until the relevant individual contract has been duly approved, signed by both parties and returned to the responsible department, office or mission, together with the required documents and certifications as stipulated in annex II to the present instruction.
5.4 Consultants and individual contractors serve in their individual capacity and not as representatives of a Government or of any other authority external to the United Nations. They are neither staff members under the Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United Nations nor officials for the purpose of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 13 February 1946. Consultants and individual contractors may be afforded the status of experts on mission within the meaning of article VI, section 22, of the Convention. If the consultants and individual contractors are required to travel on behalf of the United Nations, they may be given a United Nations certificate in accordance with article VII, section 26, of the Convention.
Standards of conduct
5.5 Consultants and individual contractors shall respect the impartiality and independence of the Secretariat and shall neither seek nor accept instructions regarding the services performed under the individual contract from any Government or other authority external to the Organization. During the period of their service for the Secretariat, consultants and individual contractors shall refrain from any conduct that would adversely reflect on the United Nations and shall not engage in any activity that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the Organization. They are required to strictly adhere to the Secretariat policies on prohibition of harassment, sexual harassment and abuse of authority, the provisions of the Secretary-General’s bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) and other policies and instructions relating to proper conduct in the Secretariat.
5.6 Consultants and individual contractors shall exercise the utmost discretion in all matters relating to the discharge of their functions. Unless otherwise authorized by the appropriate official in the department, office or mission concerned, consultants and individual contractors may not communicate at any time to the media or to any institution, person, Government or other external authority any information that has not been made public and that has become known to them by reason of their association with the Secretariat. Consultants and individual contractors may not use such information without the written authorization of the Organization. These obligations do not lapse upon cessation of their service with the United Nations.
Duration of contract
5.7 The duration of the contract shall be directly linked to the terms of reference as set out in the consultant’s or individual contractor’s contract.
5.8 In order to limit the repeated use of the same consultant, either to perform different tasks within the workplan or a series of tasks within the same project, no consultant shall provide services for more than 24 months in a 36-month period, whether continuous or not, and irrespective of the cumulative months of actual work.
5.9 The services of an individual contractor shall be limited to 6 or, in special circumstances, 9 work-months in any period of 12 consecutive months, irrespective of the cumulative months of actual work, save for individual contractors engaged to perform language functions on a unit-cost basis.
Work permits and related authorizations
5.10 For internationally recruited consultants or individual contractors, who are required by the nature of their assignment to work in a country other than their own country of permanent residence, the Organization, at its own expense, will assist the consultant or individual contractor in obtaining the necessary visas and/or work permits.
5.11 Locally recruited consultants or individual contractors, if serving in a duty station outside their country of nationality, are responsible for all necessary visas and work permits required by local authorities before commencing their assignment with the Organization.
5.12 As a general principle, the fees payable to a consultant or individual contractor shall be the minimum amount necessary to obtain the services required by the Organization.
5.13 If deemed necessary, the department, office or mission may indicate the approximate expected fee levels in their request or advertisement, which shall be guided by applicable market rates for the type, quality and volume of services required. To the extent possible, such fee levels should be discussed with other United Nations entities at the duty station. Amounts paid in connection with travel undertaken by the consultant in accordance with sections 5.26 and 5.27 below shall not be taken into account for remuneration purposes.
5.14 Heads of department, office or mission shall keep records of how the fee level was determined.
5.15 Detailed policy guidelines and formulas for the determination of the appropriate level of remuneration are provided in annex III to the present instruction.
5.16 Consultants and individual contractors shall not be entitled to any paid leave, including annual leave, sick leave, special leave or official holidays. The fees of consultants and individual contractors, other than those paid on the basis of a lump sum, shall be prorated for any period of absence.
5.17 Fee advances
. In general, fee advances for all individual contracts shall not be granted. However, a maximum of 30 per cent of the total contract value may be authorized by Heads of department or office in cases where advance purchases, for example for supplies or travel, may be necessary.
5.18 Instalments. In cases where the payment of fees is made in instalments, the final instalment may not be less than 10 per cent of the total value of the contract and will be payable only upon satisfactory completion of the services and the manager’s certification thereof. The payment of instalments should be directly linked with satisfactory deliverables at specific time intervals, as certified by the manager.
5.19 Unsatisfactory or incomplete deliverables. The payment of fees is subject to the satisfactory completion of services and the Secretariat’s certification to that effect, at the appropriate milestones (see sects. 5.29 to 5.33).
Taxes on income
5.20 The fees of consultants and individual contractors are expressed in gross amounts. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local laws. The United Nations does not reimburse consultants or individual contractors for any taxes, duty or other contribution payable by the consultants or individual contractors on payments made under the individual contract. The United Nations does not issue statements of earnings to consultants and individual contractors.
Contracts with token fees
5.21 Individuals with specific expertise who volunteer their services to the United Nations for no fee and who travel on behalf of the Organization may, subject to clearance by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management on a case-by-case basis, be issued an individual contract with a token fee (e.g. $1). Where appropriate, they may be paid travel expenses, including daily subsistence allowance, in accordance with sections 5.26 and 5.27 below.
Life and health insurance
5.22 The United Nations does not provide or arrange life or health insurance coverage for consultants and individual contractors, and consultants and individual contractors are not eligible to participate in the life and health insurance schemes provided by the United Nations for its staff members. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for assuming all costs related to required inoculations and medical treatment.
5.23 Consultants and individual contractors are fully responsible for arranging, at their own expense, such life, health and other forms of insurance covering the period of their services as they consider appropriate. The responsibility of the United Nations is limited solely to the payment of compensation for service-incurred death, injury or illness in accordance with section 5.24.
Compensation for service-incurred death, injury or illness
5.24 Consultants and individual contractors, or their dependants as appropriate, who are authorized to travel at United Nations expense or who are required under their contract to perform services in a United Nations office shall be entitled in the event of death
, injury or illness attributable to the performance of official duties on behalf of the United Nations to compensation equivalent to that provided under appendix D to the Staff Rules (ST/SGB/Staff
Rules/Appendix D/Rev.1 and Amend.1; see annex I,
Malicious acts insurance policy
5.25 Consultants and individual contractors are covered under the terms of the malicious acts insurance policy.
5.26 If the United Nations determines that the consultant or individual contractor needs to travel in order to perform his or her assignment, that travel shall be specified in the contract and provided for by the Organization. In accordance with section 4.5 of the administrative instruction on official travel (ST/AI/2013/3
), when travel is authorized for consultants and individual contractors, economy class shall be the standard of accommodation for air travel in all cases and irrespective of the duration of the journey, unless determined otherwise by the Secretary-General, taking into account the circumstances of the traveller (such as for health reasons) and the interests of the Organization as provided in sections 4.8 and 4.9 of ST/AI/2013/3
5.27 Consultants and individual contractors authorized to travel shall receive a daily subsistence allowance that shall comprise the total contribution of the Organization towards such expenses as meals, lodging, gratuities and other such payments made for services rendered. The payment of the daily subsistence allowance shall be made on the same basis as staff members, except where otherwise expressly provided, and in accordance with a schedule of rates established from time to time by the International Civil Service Commission.
5.28 Consultants and individual contractors shall not receive training at the expense of the United Nations.3
5.29 A formal output evaluation shall be conducted at the time of completion of assignment on a designated form and recorded in the rosters maintained by the respective department, office or mission for consideration for future contracts (see annex VI).
5.30 In cases of contract periods longer than six months, interim evaluations should be undertaken by the direct supervisor.
5.31 The output evaluation shall measure the achievement of goals and the quality and timeliness of work, as stipulated in the terms of reference. If output is evaluated as less than fully satisfactory, no further contracts shall be granted to the consultant or individual contractor, and payments may be reduced or withheld entirely (see
5.32 Requesting managers and officials approving individual contracts should verify the performance record of the proposed consultant or individual contractor on file for future engagement or the extension or renewal of his or her contract.
5.33 The Office of Human Resources Management shall have the authority to take a final decision on whether further contracts should be awarded in the case of an unsatisfactory output evaluation by the direct supervisor.
Termination of contract
5.34 An individual contract may be terminated by the United Nations or by the consultant or individual contractor in accordance with the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors (see annex I, art. 13).
5.35 Unsatisfactory or incomplete output or failure to conform to the standards of conduct set out in the present instruction shall lead to termination of service for cause, without notice, at the initiative of the United Nations.