Speech at Panel on Public Service

III. An overview of the civil service establishment, strength, retirement, resignation, age profile and gender profile

Establishment and strength

Members enquired whether B/Ds which had vacancies for long (say two to three years) would be required to give an explanation about the unfilled vacancies, whether vacant posts would be deleted, and whether the civil service establishment would be reviewed to replace the posts that no longer required as a result of streamlining of work processes or use of technology, so as to maintain zero growth in expenditure.

The Administration advised that some grades had encountered difficulties in recruiting the required number of staff members for filling all the posts. While these grades would not be asked to delete the vacant posts, due consideration would be given when the grades concerned sought approval for creating new posts. The Administration would also review and consolidate civil service posts having regard to operational needs and in any case, there remained zero growth in the overall civil service establishment since 2021-22.

IV. Non-civil service contract staff

Replacement of Non-Civil Service Contract positions with civil service posts

Members enquired about the percentage of successful applicants for civil service posts who were serving or former NCSC staff performing duties comparable to the civil service posts under recruitment. The Administration advised that it did not have the number of former NCSC staff being recruited as civil servants. Nevertheless, the success rates for NCSC staff and other applicants for civil service posts were around 14% and 3% respectively.

In response to members’ enquiry about the notice period given to NCSC staff for replacing their positions by civil service posts, the Administration advised that the notice period would vary with each department. As a general practice, the concerned NCSC staff would be informed a few months in advance so that they might plan and prepare to seek alternative employments in good time.

Terms and conditions of employment

Some members considered it was unreasonable that the pay for NCSC staff could not exceed the mid-point salaries of comparable civil service ranks or civil servants undertaking comparable levels of responsibilities even if the NCSC staff had been employed for a long time. This would adversely affect the morale of NCSC staff. The Administration was asked to conduct regular reviews on the remuneration and terms of employment of NCSC staff to maintain their morale.

The Administration advised that the work of NCSC staff and civil servants were different. For instance, NCSC would not be required to handle confidential assignments or enforcement work, undergo intensive training, or show potential for career advancement or improvement in performance during the contract period. Hence, the pay for NCSC staff would generally not exceed the mid-point salaries of comparable civil service ranks or civil servants undertaking comparable levels of responsibilities, except those with specific knowledge and experience to deliver the required services. Nevertheless, B/Ds would conduct periodic reviews on the pay of their NCSC staff to ensure that the employment package remained competitive with the prevailing employment market situation.