Hong Kong civil servants offered higher pay rise than study recommended

It remains unclear whether Senior Government Officers Association, which rejected original figures, will accept rise of 1.88 per cent to 2.94 per cent

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2017, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 June, 2017, 10:56pm

Civil servants can expect to receive a pay rise of about 2 to 3 per cent after the government offered to lift the annual rise by at least 0.5 percentage points above the findings of a survey on private-sector pay trends.

It came two weeks after Hong Kong’s senior civil servants refused to endorse the government study, which recommended a pay rise of 1.38, 2.44 and 1.82 per cent for government staff in the upper, middle and lower salary bands – marking the second such snub in three years amid concern about morale among staff.

In a statement, the Civil Service Bureau announced on Tuesday that the Executive Council had agreed on a deal under which higher earners would receive a pay rise of 1.88 per cent and those in the middle and lower ranks would pocket an increase of 2.94 per cent.

A spokesman for the bureau said the government would submit the pay adjustment proposal to the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee for consideration as soon as possible after the Executive Council receives staff responses to the offer and makes a final decision.

He also said the council had decided on the latest offer after considering the pay trend survey, the state of Hong Kong’s economy, changes in the cost of living, the government’s fiscal position, the pay claims of the staff side and civil service morale.

It is normal for the government in recent years to raise the pay offer for lower-ranking staff to that for those in the middle.

In 2015, two civil service associations declined to endorse the study recommending a rise of between 3.02 and 4.12 per cent. Exco eventually revised the offer upwards to between 3.96 and 4.62 per cent.

Senior Government Officers Association chairman Steven Wong Hung-lok said the latest ­offer was still too low and could not cover inflation, which stood at 2.4 per cent last year. He previously said they were expecting an ­increase of at least 3 per cent.

He said they would continue to urge the government to adopt a higher pay rise.

The Post understands the ­association will meet today to ­decide on their response to the ­offer.

Leung Chau-ting, head of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said he had little choice but to accept the offer.

“It still cannot cover inflation, but at least the gap has been reduced ... It also cannot help to improve morale. It can only make civil servants like us feel a little bit better,” Leung said.

Alexa Chow Yee-ping, managing director of AMAC Human Resources Consultants, said the offer should be accepted by civil servants.

“It is already closer to the pay rise in the private sector. The general public might find it unacceptable if the pay rise is further increased,” Chow said. “The civil service will remain attractive because it is more stable. Even some big companies have to lay off staff nowadays.”

The survey, which covered 111 private companies with 156,238 employees, had earlier found that private sector employees received raises of between 2.53 and 3.78 per cent.

But after discounting the effect of annual civil service pay increments for seniority, the study recommended rises of just 1.82, 2.44 and 1.38 per cent for government staff in the lower, middle and upper salary bands.