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STU Flash, 26 April 2022

Flexible Working Arrangements

STU/70th Council/22/011
26 April 2022


Dear colleagues,

The STU wishes to acknowledge Administrative Circular AC/HR/84 which the Administration has released on a new Policy on Flexible Working Arrangements, which came into effect on 19 April 2022.

In this policy, the Administration recognizes the need for a better work life balance for all UNESCO personnel, both in Headquarters and in its Field Offices, and the STU agrees with this view. It acknowledges as most of organizations in the United Nations System and beyond that telework is a reality that can modernize working methods that encompass today’s working trends and is respectful of the diversity of situations of staff members. As such, we would like to make special mention to gender equality, which shall be at the heart of all actions and policies concerning staff. In this specific context, it is legitimate to ask if the current adoption of the Policy on Flexible Working Arrangements is accurately tackling the pressing issue of narrowing the gender divide by questioning a culture of “presenteeism” that actually penalizes mostly women, or if it will build the path towards greater gender equality in the Organization. Who is more likely to take up teleworking in the future, women or men? What consequences will it have for women’s careers, training opportunities, mobility, etc.? What will be the implications for gender equality at home?

Notwithstanding, the STU further wishes to recognize significant advances towards a modern workplace with the introduction of a "Break for External Learning activities" of six hours per week, and the occasional work away from the office. The policy also includes the possibility to opt for two days a week of telecommuting, one day more than previously announced, which can be taken in either half day or full days.

The STU recalls that the policy clearly states that “Supervisors are expected to implement this policy in an equitable and consistent manner across the board for all employees”.

The STU encourages all eligible colleagues who wish to benefit from these new arrangements to do so, to dare to make the request to their supervisor, and recalls that it is not necessary to provide a reason for their choice.

In general, the STU considers that this policy could have been more ambitious and innovative, in line with the policies of other international organizations, but it is a step in the right direction. We will be working to bring other proposals to the table for the Administration to consider when this first policy is evaluated.

In the meantime, colleagues, be assured that the STU stands at your side to support you and to dialogue with the Administration to ensure a smooth implementation of this new policy.

The STU hopes that the conditions will soon be met so that all Field Colleagues will be able to benefit from the new policy.

The STU solemnly reaches out to each and every one of you, dear colleagues, make our actions count, become a member of the STU – TODAY!

Best regards,

The STU President.