Gratuity terms 'need overhaul'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 December, 1998, 12:00am

PAY packages for civil servants on contracts should be overhauled, an academic has suggested.

The call by City University's head of public and social administration, Dr Cheung Bing-leung, followed the controversial multi-million-dollar gratuity payout to former Airport Authority chief executive Hank Townsend.

Dr Cheung said it was possible that certain performance targets should be met before the gratuity was paid. But translating those targets into measurable benchmarks would be difficult.

'It is not easy to come up with a set of objective criteria for assessing one's performance. Very often things measurable are easily achieved,' he said.

The former Democrat legislator said salary packages should be reviewed in light of the growing trend to appoint senior posts on agreement terms.

He said the Government also should examine whether the contract staff would be brought under the upcoming mandatory provident scheme.

Senior Non-Expatriate Officers Association chairman Leung Chi-chiu said gratuities had long been regarded as substitutes for lost pensions.

'It should not be viewed as payment in recognition of merits,' he said.

He also questioned why contract staff were targeted.

'If we are to introduce certain mechanisms on gratuity payments, should we also bring pensionable staff under similar control?' he asked.

He said he doubted that civil servants could follow practices in the private sector, in which bonuses were tied to performance.

'Public service is sometimes intangible. Not everything can be judged in terms of productivity or profits,' he said.

'Any concrete appraisal benchmarks would provoke disputes or be prone to abuse.' Chinese Civil Servants' Association president Cecilia So Chui-kuen believed gratuities would only be given when an employee's performance was satisfactory.

'Normally gratuity is given upon the completion of service to the satisfaction of the department. It's just a matter of how department heads implement this policy,' she said.