Police unions say plan for raising retirement age discriminates against current officers

Civil servants and police are agreed: it should be their choice to keep working or not

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 8:36am

Police and civil servants say it should be up to them to decide - without a screening system - whether they can work beyond the retirement age.

And the four unions representing some 28,000 members of the police force said they would be discriminated against if the retirement age was extended just for new recruits, as has been suggested by the government.

Under a government proposal, only new recruits to the disciplined services would be able to continue working until the age of 57. The current mandatory retirement age for police is 55. But this could be extended to 60 if an annual test was passed.

Police and civil servants were invited to make submissions on the plan in a four-month consultation that ended on Saturday.

"As members of the disciplined forces, we feel that we are being discriminated against and demand that the administration allow all serving staff to work toward the designated retirement age, as other civil servants do," read a joint submission by the Superintendents' Association, Hong Kong Police Inspectors' Association, the Overseas Inspectors' Association and the Junior Police Officers' Association.

The unions also asked that all disciplined services staff be allowed to work until the age of 65.

They said serving officers - not management - should be able to decide whether to work past 55. "Allowing management to decide who is to be offered further employment would likely bring the transparency of the system into question," the submission said.

Henry Ngo Chi-hang, chairman of the Police Inspectors' Association, said extending the retirement age for new recruits would not solve staffing problems in the force. "It's only addressing a potential problem that may surface decades down the track," Ngo said. He added that a recent survey of 200 police showed 72 per cent were willing to work beyond the age of 55.

Separately, the Federation of Civil Service Unions said civil servants who wanted to extend their retirement age from the current 60 to 65 should be allowed to do so - and there should not be any screening system.

According to the government proposal, department heads would decide whether to retain staff once they passed the retirement age.

Union chairman Tsang Sum said many civil servants - especially those in the lower salary band - wanted to continue working once they reached 60 to save money for their children, or for retirement. "They'll still have 20 or so years if they retire around 60. Some get a monthly pension of about HK$4,000 - if they have kids, that's not enough," he said.