EC launches sweeping reform of its HR function

Internal communications are playing a vital role in driving forward a
massive reform programme at the European Commission, following allegations of
mismanagement and fraud during the 1999 scandal.

Staff are being consulted on proposals to reform the HR function, including
the modernisation of the pay system, changes to the career structure and
increased rights to flexible working.

Restrictive categorisation of staff, based on educational achievement, made
it difficult for employees to progress. A new promotion structure will be
developed based on performance.

Allowances are being increased to help with childcare, rights to flexible
working, part-time working and teleworking are being extended, and family leave
will be lengthened. The commission aims to put a greater focus on equal
opportunities and increase the training budget.

The HR reforms are among a number of changes introduced after the previous
commission was forced to resign in March 1999 when an independent report
criticised its working practices.

David Bearfield, head of the internal communications group for the European
Commission, said although huge changes had taken place in the commission, HR
had been untouched for 40 years.

He stressed that internal communications were vital in facilitating the
reform process.

"We’re here to enable the reform process to happen and to allow it to
happen with staff and not just something that’s a top-down process that people
find out about through newspapers. We want to facilitate an open reform process
where people can play a role," he said.

A reform site was set up on the commission’s intranet, which received
160,000 hits a day.

By Katie Hawkins

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