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LCQ9: Wastage and recruitment of civil servants
     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Ting-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Clement Cheung, in the Legislative Council today (June 14):


     Information collected by the Legislative Council Secretariat shows that as at September 2016, there were 165 927 serving civil servants and close to 9 000 civil service vacancies, representing increases of 7.9 per cent and about 200 per cent respectively over the relevant figures in September 2007. Moreover, 7 766 civil servants left the service in the 2015-2016 financial year, about 80 per cent of whom being retirees. With respect to wastage and recruitment of civil servants, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of civil servants who retired in each of the past five financial years and, among them, the number of those who were offered further appointment on contract terms and the average period for which they were further appointed;

(2) of the number of civil servants who left the service on non-retirement grounds in each of the past five financial years and, among them, the number of those who were civil servants of middle salary band;

(3) of the number of civil service vacancies as at the end of the current financial year as anticipated by the authorities and, among them, the job positions with the highest number of vacancies and the reasons for that; whether they have assessed the impact of such a situation on the operation of the Government; what new measures the authorities have to fill such vacancies expeditiously;

(4) of the number of new recruits appointed to the civil service and the job positions with the highest number of new recruits in each of the past five financial years; and

(5) as it has been reported that about 90 per cent of the departures of directorate civil servants in the 2015-2016 financial year were due to normal retirement, whether the authorities have plans to train up a sufficient number of civil servants who possess the relevant experience and competence to fill such vacancies in order to avoid succession problems; if so, of the details?



     To provide new facilities and public services as well as to meet the demand for improved public services, the civil service establishment had increased from 160 707 as at September 30, 2007 to 174 543 as at September 30, 2016. During the 10 financial years from 2006-07 to 2015-16, the civil service vacancy rate had remained between 3.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent only. Our reply to the different parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The respective number of civil servants who retired in each of the five financial years from 2011-12 to 2015-16 is as follows:
Financial year 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Number of retirees # 4 534 4 843 5 135 5 652 5 995
# Include normal retirement, early retirement and re-employment after retirement without a break in service.

     In order to address the structural changes in population and to provide flexibility for meeting operational and succession needs, the Government has adopted a package of initiatives for extending the service of civil servants. These include raising the retirement age of new recruits to the civil service with effect from June 1, 2015, introducing the Post-retirement Service Contract (PRSC) Scheme in November 2015, and raising the maximum period of final extension of service to 120 days and suitably relaxing the approving criteria in February 2016. The Government has just rolled out an adjusted mechanism for further employment of a longer duration than final extension of service on June 1, 2017. Previously, applications for further appointment on agreement terms were only approved under very exceptional circumstances. Therefore, these measures will provide departments with greater flexibility to retain staff who have reached their retirement age to meet manpower needs.

(2) Over the past five years, retirement has accounted for about 80 per cent of the overall civil service wastage. Other reasons for leaving the service, such as resignation, completion of agreement and death, constituted only a relatively small number. The resignation rate has hovered around the low level of 0.55 per cent of the strength of the civil service. Although in recent years over half of the resignees left the service whilst they were on probation, the number represented less than 3 per cent of the total number of probationers. The numbers of civil servants who left the service on grounds other than retirement in each of the five financial years from 2011-12 to 2015-16 are set out at Annex. However, we have not collected detailed statistics by salary band.

(3) Civil service vacancies arise mainly from the time needed for the conduct of recruitment exercises. Since recruitment exercises are conducted by individual bureaux/departments (B/Ds) according to their actual circumstances, it is difficult for us at the present stage to estimate the number of civil service vacancies as at the end of the current financial year.

     While attention should be paid to putting in place an efficient recruitment process, it is equally important to uphold system integrity and due process, and ensure effective utilisation of resource. To this end, we will continue to assist B/Ds concerned in working out suitable measures having regard to their specific circumstances. We will also provide training courses and arrange experience sharing opportunities to staff responsible for recruitment work.

(4) The respective number of civil service appointees in each of the five financial years from 2011-12 to 2015-16 is set out in the table below.
Financial year Number of appointees^
2011-12 9 491
2012-13 9 265
2013-14 10 432
2014-15 10 078
2015-16 11 927
^ Include direct appointment and in-service appointment.

     Civil Service Bureau has not collected detailed statistics on the basis of individual job positions.

(5) The Government has in put in place a well-established mechanism to make early planning for succession. Under the mechanism, the Secretary for the Civil Service regularly discusses with Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department the succession situation in individual grades, and to formulate and implement corresponding measures. Moreover, the Civil Service Training and Development Institute and individual B/Ds will provide training and development opportunities for their staff in order to equip them to rise up to different challenges in future.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:00
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