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LCQ5: Retirement of civil servants

     Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Paul Tang, in the Legislative Council today (April 22):


     In May 2013, the Secretary for the Civil Service briefed the Panel on Public Service of this Council on the retirement situation in the Civil Service, pointing out that the retirement of civil servants would peak in the five-year period from 2017-2018 to 2021-2022, and the annual average number of retirees would be about 7 000.  To alleviate the situation, the authorities plan to raise the retirement age of new recruits joining the Civil Service from around the middle of this year.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of civil servants of various ranks retiring in each of the coming 10 years as projected by the authorities (with a tabulated breakdown by three salary bands: upper, middle and lower);

(2) as some members of the public are worried that the retirement of civil servants will give rise to a succession problem in the Civil Service, whether the authorities have concrete measures in place to ensure that public services and the overall development of society will not be affected; if they have such measures, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether the authorities have considered giving serving civil servants the option of deferring their retirement when they approach their retirement age; if they have considered, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Based on the information available to the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) and on the assumption that all civil servants will only retire upon reaching their applicable normal retirement age, it is estimated that the annual average number of retirees will be around 6 400 for the five-year period ending 2018-19, and around 6 800 for the five-year period ending 2023-24.  The number will then decline to around 5 100 for the five-year period ending 2028-29.  CSB does not have a breakdown of the relevant information by rank.

     While the number of civil service retirees will be higher over the next decade, no significant succession or recruitment problem across-the-board in the Civil Service is anticipated.  As far as succession planning is concerned, the Government has put in place a well-established mechanism to facilitate bureaux and departments in making early planning and taking timely actions where necessary.  Under the mechanism, the Secretary for the Civil Service regularly meets with Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department to discuss the succession situation in individual departments and grades, with a view to ensuring early identification of any succession problems, advance planning and timely implementation of suitable measures.  In tandem with the succession planning efforts, the Government also provides training and development opportunities for civil servants at all levels so as to enrich their exposure, enable them to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for the discharge of their duties, and prepare them for higher responsibilities.

     As announced in the 2015 Policy Address, the Government will adopt flexible retirement and employment initiatives for extending the service of civil servants.  The Government has subsequently announced that new recruits appointed to the Civil Service on or after June 1, 2015 will be subject to the new retirement age, viz. 65 for civilian grades and 60 for disciplined services grades (regardless of rank).  In addition, the Government will adopt suitable measures to facilitate departments to flexibly extend the service of serving civil servants.  In formulating the initiatives for extending the service of civil servants, the Government has fully taken into account the feedback received during the consultation period and the relevant policy considerations.  For new recruits who will retire several decades later, there is a clear case to raise their retirement age given the latest population forecasts.  The considerations for serving officers are, however, more complicated, especially where there will be no anticipated significant succession or recruitment problem across-the-board over the coming decade or so.  The different management problems that may come with automatic extension of the service of serving officers without corresponding expansion of establishment and reference to performance and skill set, including manpower mismatch, promotion blockage and impact on injection of new blood to the Civil Service, should be avoided.  It is advisable to devise a mechanism through which management could flexibly retain serving civil servants beyond retirement age in the light of operational needs, succession planning and recruitment situation, which vary from grade to grade and from time to time.  This will help avoid succession problem, while maintaining operational and management efficiency.  To this end, we will suitably adjust the mechanism for further employment of civil servants beyond retirement age, including institutionalising a selection process such that the openings for further employment will be determined in a reasonable and objective manner and that applications for further employment will be assessed by a fair and objective process.  We are hammering out the implementation details and will maintain close dialogue with the staff sides and the grade/departmental management in this regard.

Ends/Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:50


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