Under the existing New Pension Scheme or the Civil Service Provident Fund (CSPF) Scheme, the prescribed retirement ages for civil servants of the disciplined grades (disciplined service officers), which are set at 55 or 57 (depending on their ranks), are lower than the normal retirement age of 60 for civil servants of civilian grades. It has been learnt that except for exceptional circumstances, the Government generally does not consider the continued employment of officers beyond the retirement age, and quite a number of retired disciplined service officers continue to work in the private sector. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of disciplined service officers who retired in each of the past five years, broken down by their ranks and ages at the time of retirement, and whether they were under the New Pension Scheme or CSPF Scheme; and the anticipated number of those who will retire in the coming five years;
(b) given that civil servants who take up post-service outside work during the final leave, or former civil servants who take up such outside work during the specified restriction periods after retirement, are required to seek and obtain prior permission, of the number of such applications, received by the authorities in the past five years from retiring / retired disciplined service officers, and the positions of outside work involved in general in such applications;
(c) given that some disciplined service officers are re-employed by their disciplined services on a contract basis after retirement, of the number of such contract staff at present; and the details of the policy concerned, including the criteria adopted by the authorities for deciding to re-employ such officers; and
(d) whether it has assessed if the stipulation on the retirement ages of the disciplined service officers has led to succession problems or wastage of experienced staff in the disciplined services; whether the authorities have considered establishing a mechanism to allow those disciplined service officers who meet relevant requirements to apply for extending their retirement age to 60; if they have not, of the reasons for that?
Reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr Paul Tang:
(a) According to the information provided by the Treasury, the number of disciplined services staff retired in the past five years from 2008 to 2012, broken down by rank, by age and by retirement benefits schemes they belonged to is shown at Annex.
According to the information provided by the Treasury, it is projected that on average about 1 500 disciplined services staff will retire at the normal / prescribed retirement ages annually from 2013 to 2017.
(b) At present, departing directorate civil servants, during the specified periods of restriction (namely final leave period, and / or minimum sanitisation period and / or control period) as well as non-directorate civil servants retiring on pensionable terms, during their pre-retirement leave period and / or in the first two years of retirement, are required to apply for prior permission if they wish to take up post-service outside work.
From 2008 to 2012, the Administration had approved a total of about 1 200 post-service outside work applications by retired disciplined services civil servants. The nature of the approved outside work varied and the majority of them were in the areas of driving, education, management, office administration/support and security.
(c) According to the statistics provided by the Security Bureau, as at May 24, 2013, there were 115 retired disciplined services officers employed by their respective department as full-time non-civil service contract (NCSC) staff after retirement.
Regarding the employment of NCSC staff, the NCSC Staff Scheme aims at providing Heads of Departments (HoDs) with a flexible means of employment to respond more promptly to changing operational and service needs which may be time-limited, seasonal or subject to market fluctuations; or which require staff to work less than the conditioned hours; or which require tapping the latest expertise in a particular area; or whether the mode of service delivery is under review or likely to be changed. Under the NCSC Staff Scheme, HoDs have the full discretion and authority to decide on matters relating to the employment of NCSC staff including the appropriate recruitment and selection procedures, having regard to the principle of openness and fairness.
(d) The Administration has put in place a well-established mechanism to facilitate disciplined services departments in making early planning for succession and taking timely action where necessary. Under the mechanism, Secretary for the Civil Service regularly meets with Permanent Secretary for Security and heads of disciplined services departments to discuss the succession situation in individual departments and grades, with a view to ensuring early identification of any succession problems, advance planning and timely implementation of suitable measures. In the light of the retirement situation of disciplined services staff in the next few years, the Security Bureau and respective disciplined services departments will map out detailed planning and proactively conducting recruitment exercises so as to meet the operational needs and facilitate the long-term succession planning. In tandem with the succession planning efforts, respective disciplined services departments also provide training and development opportunities for disciplined services staff at all levels so as to enrich their exposure, enable them to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for the discharge of their responsibilities, and enhance their competence through postings with a view to preparing them for taking up higher responsibilities.
As regards the civil service retirement age, the Civil Service Bureau is conducting a preliminary study to assess the retirement situation in the Civil Service and look at possible options to address any operational needs identified, with a view to facilitating succession planning in the Civil Service. We are inviting inputs from the bureau / departmental management (including disciplined services departments) and will analyse the data collected taking into account the unique circumstances and features of the civil service system, including succession and operational needs, manpower planning, promotion prospects of serving officers, etc. We aim to complete the study around end of 2013/early 2014 and would then consider the way forward.