Disciplinary disputes to be settled sooner

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2000, 12:00am

Misbehaving civil servants can be dealt with in just three weeks under a new mechanism to shorten disciplinary procedures.

At present, it takes about seven to 18 months to handle cases which involve a hearing. Even without a hearing, it can take up to nine months.

The speedier process will take effect after the setting up of a central independent disciplinary secretariat proposed in the civil service reform last year.

The Government has been criticised for not taking prompt action against staff guilty of misconduct.

Amendments gazetted yesterday show the secretariat will be formed from officers with experience in disciplinary matters. They will serve as investigating officers or in investigating committees to conduct disciplinary hearings.

The Civil Service Bureau proposes to reduce the period for which officers can be absent without permission without being sacked from three weeks to two weeks.

The $12.7 million cost of the secretariat will be met from existing resources.

Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said clerical officers might be the first to face the axe under the government fat-trimming exercise.

He said he had been told clerical officers, now totalling 25,000, would be the first targets of the voluntary retirement scheme aimed at losing 10,000 posts over the next three years.