Compensation and benefits
The WTO's compensation policy is based on the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
The WTO offers an attractive salary in order to attract and retain talented individuals from around the world. On joining the WTO, your net salary will be equivalent to the base salary for your grade. Each grade has a salary range, with an annual increase based on individual performance – this is known as salary increment (see performance awards below). The WTO's salary scale is adjusted annually based on salary movements in other comparable international organizations.
WTO salaries are generally exempt from income tax. The WTO applies an internal taxation regime based on the pensionable remuneration. Most countries do not require tax on staff earnings. If a national government does require a staff member to pay tax (US citizens, for example), the WTO applies a tax equalization adjustment ensuring that the staff member's WTO earnings are not negatively affected.
The WTO rewards performance in two ways: through an annual pensionable salary increase (salary increment) and through a performance reward (bonus), which is not-pensionable.
Dependency allowances are available for staff members who have a dependent spouse. The WTO also recognizes other types of domestic partnerships provided these partnerships have a legal basis in the countries where they are established. Allowances are also available for staff with dependent children (normally up to 18 years old, or 21 years old if they are in full-time education) and/or a secondary dependant (a father or mother, and under certain conditions, a brother or a sister).
As employees of an international organization, staff members are normally not covered by their national social security system. The WTO therefore provides its own mandatory social security system.
- WTO Pension Plan: A percentage of the staff member's pensionable remuneration is contributed to the WTO's Pension Plan. Two-thirds of each staff member's pension contribution is paid by the organization and one-third is paid by the staff member. The pensionable remuneration is higher than the net salary as it takes into account a taxation component. The Pension Plan is a defined benefits plan, which means that the retirement benefit is based on the length of participation and on the staff member's Final Average Remuneration. The age of retirement is currently set at 65 years old, with early retirement possible from the age of 60.
- WTO Medical Insurance Plan: The Medical Insurance Plan provides worldwide coverage for reasonable expenses regarding medical and pharmaceutical treatment resulting from illness, accident and maternity, preventive care and dental treatment, within the limits established by the provisions of the insurance contract. Participation in the Medical Insurance Plan is obligatory for all staff and optional for eligible dependants.
- Service-incurred accidents, illness and death: Staff members are insured for service-incurred accidents, illness and death.
- Optional death and disability insurance: Staff members have the possibility of enrolling in additional "Death and Disability" insurance.
- Separation grant: Staff members who resign or retire from the WTO are entitled to a separation grant.
- Death grant: In the event of the death of a serving staff member, a grant is paid to the spouse, dependent children or secondary dependant.
- Legitimation card, privileges and immunities: Fixed-term staff members and their spouse as well as children up to age 25 will receive a "carte de légitimation" (legitimation card) from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. It entitles the holder to live and work in Switzerland (newcomers coming from abroad to Geneva may need to obtain an entry visa to Switzerland depending on their nationality. No card will be ordered for the staff if they do not obtain the required entry visa – always check the following link: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/fr/home/publiservice/weisungen-kreisschreiben/visa/liste1_staatsangehoerigkeit/a.html
- If a staff member resides in Switzerland, his/her dependants will be eligible to obtain a "Ci permit", which gives access to the Swiss labour market. If a staff member resides in France, his/her dependants are eligible to obtain a legitimation card only and are excluded from obtaining a Ci permit.
- Parking: Covered parking facilities for staff members are available at the WTO premises and nearby.
- Fitness centre: A fully equipped fitness centre is available on the WTO premises on the basis of a membership fee. In addition, various sports and well-being classes are available.
- Restaurant and coffee bar: A self-service restaurant and a coffee bar are available on the WTO premises.
The WTO provides its staff with an attractive leave package, which includes:
- 30 days of fully paid annual leave, in addition to the nine official holidays of the WTO
- 16 weeks of maternity leave, four weeks of paternity leave
- Adoption leave (when a staff member is adopting a child and if the child meets the eligibility requirements to be recognized as a dependent child of the staff member)
- Uncertified sick, emergency and family leave
- Compassionate leave
- Certified sick leave
- Special leave without pay
Benefits for internationally recruited staff
Staff members on a fixed-term contract who reside outside a radius of 75 km from the Pont du Mont-Blanc in Geneva at the time of recruitment are classified as "internationally recruited". They are eligible for the following benefits:
- Travel and removal expenses: At the time of recruitment, the cost of travel to Geneva is covered by the WTO. Travel costs for the staff member's spouse (dependant or not) and dependent children (up to the age of 18 or 21 if in full-time school/university attendance) will also be covered. Costs of shipping/storing and insuring household goods are covered up to a certain limit. The amount of the lump sum for removal will vary depending on the location of the removal point and the dependency status of the staff member.
- Installation grant: If the staff member is travelling to Geneva from the place of recruitment (outside a radius of 75km from the Pont du Mont-Blanc in Geneva), he/she will receive an installation grant contributing towards the initial settling-in expenses.
- Education grant: Staff members may benefit from an education grant for their dependent children in full-time attendance at a recognized school or university from the scholastic year in which the child reaches five years to 25 years old of age up and according to the WTO education grant policy. Staff members may benefit from a special education grant in respect of a dependent child who is recognized by the WTO as disabled and who requires special teaching or training.
- Rental subsidy: If a new fixed-term staff member rents a house or apartment, a subsidy may be paid should the rent exceed a so-called threshold rental amount. The rental subsidy is limited to the first seven years of employment with the WTO and is gradually reduced between the fifth and seventh year. The amount of the subsidy depends on the family situation and the salary level and covers a portion of the rent between the threshold (calculated based on a percentage of the salary) and a defined maximum rental amount.
- Home leave: Staff members and their family are entitled to home leave every two years, so as to spend part of their annual leave in their home country. The entitlement covers the travel expenses of the staff member and his/her family (spouse and dependent children). Additional leave days (normally one or two days for the homeward journey and the same for the return to Geneva depending on the distance to the destination) are added to the staff member's annual leave days to compensate for the travel time to their home country.
- Family visit: For the purpose of visiting one's spouse or children who are not resident in Switzerland, the travel expenses of the staff member to the place of recruitment or to the place of home leave may be paid by the WTO, once every year.
- Travel and removal expenses on separation from service: If a staff member decides to leave the WTO or when the staff member retires, travel expenses are covered upon proof of relocation outside Switzerland. Costs of removal of personal effects and household goods are also covered on the same basis as when joining the WTO.
Internationally recruited Swiss nationals are not, however, eligible to receive education grants or home leave.
Training and career/personal development
The WTO is committed to providing training to its staff so that the organization is able to carry out its mandate and to adapt to new challenges. Training courses and career/personal development are key ingredients to ensuring that staff members keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
Staff are offered opportunities to improve their effectiveness in their current job, and to prepare for new tasks or a change of role. Learning needs are reviewed at individual, departmental and organization level, so that both staff and the organization benefit. The WTO's Learning Service uses a variety of methods to cater for the learning and development needs of staff, such as training courses, learning networks, mentoring and coaching.
Staff moves within the WTO
Moving to other WTO divisions presents staff members with the opportunity to perform new functions and to broaden their professional experience. By working in another division, staff members acquire new skills and are introduced to possibilities that may in turn improve their chances of career development. From the organization's perspective, movement of staff between divisions enhances the versatility of the organization and leads to staff broadening their skill set. It also allows the organization to respond to shifting demands.
All openings in the Secretariat are publicized through calls for expressions of interest. This allows staff members to request a transfer to another division. Moreover, a staff member may undertake a secondment to another division for a certain period. The WTO Secretariat also undertakes an annual exercise to identify opportunities for reciprocal staff movements between divisions for staff at the same grade. This initiative responds to the evolving needs of the organization and to the need of staff members for career development.
Secondment of a WTO staff member to another organization offers the staff member an opportunity to gain useful experience that may benefit his/her career development. The experience gained by the staff member is not only of benefit to the WTO but also to the institution providing the secondment opportunity.
The WTO is conscious of the need for a good work/life balance and therefore offers a range of options to ensure that staff can reach a good balance between their work life and personal life. These options include flexible working arrangements (e.g. staggered work hours, various working schedules, telecommuting) and part-time work.