Legislators yesterday approved the $2.5 million-a-year position of press secretary for the Financial Secretary - after hearing that the press officer who did the job was so busy she had no time for a love life. The new post will go to Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, formerly a deputy representative at the Government's Economic and Trade Office in Geneva. The job is a directorate grade-two post. Justifying the proposal, the Government revealed that Cathy Chu Man-ling, 36, press secretary for the Chief Secretary for Administration, worked up to 19 hours a day because she was performing the same duties for the finance chief. She often had to work from 6.30am until after midnight, Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong said. Upon hearing this, legislators from all major parties criticised the Government for putting such a large workload on Ms Chu. Democrat Albert Chan Wai-yip said the Government was a 'heartless employer'. 'You cannot be a slave-driver and force her to work so long,' he said. Non-affiliated legislator Ng Leung-sing, who is a neighbour of Ms Chu, said such a harsh working environment had prevented her from having a love life. 'Every time I see her parents they complain to me that Cathy cannot find a boyfriend because she has no time. How can a job rob a person of the right to get married?' he said. Some legislators had earlier questioned the seniority of the new post. Mr Lam said: 'It is expected that in a job like this, you have to put in these sort of hours. They just cannot refuse to speak to the press because it is after 8pm . . . The important thing is to ensure the transparency of the Government.' He said it was important for people working in such jobs to have their spouse's understanding. 'That is why they cannot stay in the post for a long time before they get burn-out,' he said. Meanwhile, legislators backed a plan to raise the salaries of senior civil servants by 4.99 per cent and those in the middle and lower pay band by 2.38 per cent. Employees of subvented organisations will also be included. The pay rise, to be backdated to April 1, will cost an extra $3.97 billion a year. Lawmakers also endorsed a plan to raise their monthly expenses by $25,000 due to an increased workload in recent years. At present each Legco member is paid $59,400 a month, plus $96,120 for expenses and a travel allowance of $13,720.