Flexible policy for existing civil servants who want to stay on after 60

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 June, 2015, 5:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 June, 2015, 5:38pm

With reference to Albert Cheng King-hon's article ("Extending retirement age for all civil servants is fairer, and better for HK", May 22) and Keith Lee's letter ("Higher civil service retirement age costly drain on public purse", June 7), I wish to share with readers the government's policy considerations in extending the service of civil servants.

The retirement ages of new recruits appointed to the civil service on or after June 1, 2015, have been raised to 65 for civilian grades and 60 for disciplined services grades. Also, the government will formulate flexible initiatives for extending the service of serving civil servants.

These initiatives will enable the civil service to take early action in response to demographic challenges and to meet the manpower needs of departments for operational effectiveness.

For new recruits who will retire several decades later, there is a clear case to raise their retirement age, given the population forecasts.

The considerations for extending the service of serving officers are more complicated. While the number of retirees is projected to increase over the next decade, from an annual average of around 6,400 (or a wastage rate of 3.9 per cent) in the five-year period ending 2018-19 to around 6,800 (or 4.2 per cent) in the next five-year period ending 2023-24, we do not anticipate significant recruitment or succession problems across the board during the period. It is also anticipated that the number of retirees will decline thereafter.

The civil service establishment has undergone a moderate increase in recent years.

Without a significant expansion of the establishment, vacancies for promotion and recruitment will mainly come from retirement. Therefore, an automatic extension of the service of all serving officers without reference to their performance and skill sets will give rise to management problems, including manpower mismatch, promotion blockage and lack of healthy turnover.

Having balanced carefully all relevant factors, we consider it advisable to adjust the further employment mechanism. This would enable departments to flexibly retain serving staff beyond retirement age in the light of their different manpower and succession needs, while minimising the above adverse effects.

Under the adjusted mechanism, applications for further employment will be assessed by selection boards in a fair and objective manner. The mechanism will continue to be subject to scrutiny by the Civil Service Bureau and/or the Public Service Commission. There is no question of inequality.

Eddie Mak, deputy secretary for the civil service