• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 8:53am
NewsHong Kong

Retirement age of new Hong Kong civil servants to rise to 65 under new plans

New staff will work extra five years under move to address the issue of ageing population, with predictions that private sector could follow suit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2014, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 4:33pm


  • Yes: 85%
  • No: 15%
4 Apr 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 366

The retirement age of newly hired civil servants will be extended from 60 to 65 under a government plan to tackle the ageing population and shrinking workforce.

Although the retirement age for existing public sector employees will remain unchanged, department heads will be given more flexibility to keep those who reach retirement age.

Civil service groups generally supported the proposal but were worried that the promotion prospects of young civil servants would be hindered.

A human resources expert and an employer representative believed the private sector would follow suit.

Secretary for the Civil Service Paul Tang Kwok-wai said yesterday: "In the face of the demographic challenges arising from an ageing population and a shrinking workforce, the government … considers it an opportune time to examine possible options for extending the working life of civil servants."

Current civil servants who want to work beyond 60 would be able to file applications to their departments.

The retirement age for new recruits in the disciplined services would rise from 55 to 57. But officers would be allowed to work up to 60 if they passed a series of assessments and physical tests.

The Civil Service Bureau also plans to make it easier for employees to work in the private sector after retirement.

The government is Hong Kong's biggest employer, with more than 160,000 on its payroll.

About 4,200 civil servants have retired each year over the past five years. The bureau has forecast this will rise to 6,000 a year until 2018, then shoot up to 7,000 a year till 2023. It will then slow to 5,400 a year up to 2028.

The government is considering extending the retirement of new recruits in batches, to minimise the possibility of a "retirement tide" in future decades.

A four-month consultation was launched to collect views from civil servants.

Ngai Sik-shui, chairman of the Immigration Service Officers Association, suggested that the retirement age for newly recruited disciplined services officers be increased directly to 60 instead of the proposed 57.

"Many colleagues want to work a few more years because they feel that they are physically strong enough and they get a sense of satisfaction serving the public," he said. His association conducted a survey of more than 1,000 immigration officers and found that 75 per cent supported extending the retirement age. But he was concerned about favouritism, with department heads extending the retirement age of officers they like, hindering promotion prospects for juniors.

Li Wai-yee, chairwoman of a staff organisation that represents junior civil servants, also had reservations. New recruits would have to work five more years to get their pensions and the promotion prospects of existing staff might be hindered.

But the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, said this was the "right way to go" and companies might follow suit. The retirement age in the private sector is usually 60, he added.

Lancy Chui, regional managing director of Greater China operations at ManpowerGroup, said the move could help companies having trouble finding suitable people to fill senior posts.

On the mainland, men retire at 60 and women at 50.

Additional reporting by Tanna Chong


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Offer officials flexible age for retirement
With the average human lifespan increasing most people are finding that they want to work longer so they can save up more for their retirement.
The Hong Kong government is looking into the possibility of extending the present retirement age of 60 in the civil service. Before any decision is made it is important to look at the pros and cons of such a policy change.
I can understand that people with a heavy financial burden to bear, perhaps because of family commitments, would benefit from this policy as it would offer them greater financial security. However, some people worry that if the retirement age was extended to 65 some senior officials would stay in their posts for a further five years and this would affect morale in the civil service.
Such a policy would require careful fine-tuning before being implemented and there would have to be feasibility studies.
I would suggest that the government adopts a flexible system allowing existing civil servants the choice.
They could retire any time between the ages of 50 and 65. Those who felt fit enough could stay beyond 60 if they really wished to.
Those officials who were already financially comfortable could retire earlier and rest or seek a new line of work.
Their departure would create job opportunities for younger civil servants seeking promotion.
Barry Kwok
where are the fruits of scientific advances ?
where have the fruits of increase of productivity & mass production gone ?
Why should people today still have to work longer and harder ?
for the sake of environment protection, please work less (produce less) & play hard!
The salaries of our civil servants should be reduced by 3 % each year until the turnover (wastage) rate return to normal level (that is 4% compared to the private sectors). 4% wastage means it still takes 25 years to turn over the whole civil service workforce !
Not until then should we consider to change their retirement ages.
They don't need to extend their retirement ages.
Just change back from 5-work-days a week back to 5-and a half work days a week!
How about assessing their performance before offering this extension of appointment? Good opportunity to weed out deadwood, if any, of course.
Good luck with implementing a performance-based review system for civil servants.
"Do you have a heartbeat?"
"Congratulations! You passed the test."
I bet the people who complain bitterly about the Civil Service would gladly receive those benefits if employed by the government in the CS. Or if they joined the CS, would they say, "I don't want all those benefits", just give me a basic wage? - I don't think so!
Yes, you're right. I don't blame the recipients of the public largesse. I'd probably do the same thing if I were in their shoes. But I'm not. Therefore, I do object to the decisions of government officials who connive in and benefit from their munificence with other people's money, namely the struggling taxpayers who must foot the bill, and I also object to the patently false and self-serving justifications of "serving the people" made by overpaid public employees whose fervent wish is to do nothing more than to continue to line their pockets with public sector gold. Must be nice.
From the SCMP, January 2007:
"Let's cut to the chase here. The consultants who did the pay study are Watson Wyatt Worldwide, an international pay specialist, and this is not the firm's first pay study of Hong Kong civil servants.
"It conducted a very similar one in 2003 for the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the conclusions to which it came at the time were stunning.
"Excluding the disciplined services but otherwise comparing all major job families, our civil servants were paid 229 per cent more than their private sector counterparts in total pay and benefits.".
Hong Kong people are struggling. Civil servants are laughing. All the way to the bank.
Dai Muff
And meanwhile, I have a couple of good friends in the civil service - on non pensionable terms - who love their jobs, are good at them, and are being forced to retire against their will. The government's left hand should know what its right hand is going.
Personally, I have no wish to retire. I'd even be willing for companies to reduce salaries for people somewhat after a specific retirement age. Inactivity kills. But then, I enjoy my work.




SCMP.com Account