The government is reinforcing a carrot-and-stick approach to staffing, rewarding outstanding employees with free trips and moving to shorten the time needed to get rid of poor performers. At present, poor performers are placed under 12 months' supervision. Only those who show improvement will be spared compulsory retirement. In a letter issued to 170,000 civil servants yesterday, Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping warned that those who failed to meet requirements would not be tolerated. 'We intend to further streamline the procedures ... to monitor the performance of civil servants more closely and to retire poor performers without delay,' Mr Wong said. 'While we spare no effort to motivate continuous improvement in performance, it is only fair we take resolute action against those who fail to meet requirements.' In the two years to March this year, 18 civil servants were forced to retire because of persistent sub-standard performance, the Civil Service Bureau said. To reward outstanding performance, Mr Wong said those receiving a commendation from him would be awarded free trips based on the existing long-service reward for those who have worked for 20 years. Under that award, recipients each receive $14,700. Federation of Civil Service Unions president Leung Chau-ting said he opposed shortening the observation period for poor performers. 'We think 12 months is already the minimum. We need to give ample time to the officer concerned to prove he is worthy,' he said. He agreed that a 12-month observation period might appear too long from the private sector's point of view, but said the civil service should take a different approach. Mr Leung warned a fast-track dismissal system could lead to abuse by supervisors.