HK civil servants set for another pay rise as committee recommends bump of between 3 and 5 per cent

17-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s civil servants are likely to see their pay rise by 3 to 5 per cent this year, a 0.5 per cent bump from the last increase in 2018.

The recommendation for the annual increase from the official pay trend survey committee, which includes representatives from business, the professional sectors, government, and the civil service, was revealed on Thursday morning.

An important indicator of how the private sector is handling wages, the proposed increase was based on data collected from 108 companies, with their pay rises ranging from 5.32 per cent in the lower band, to 6.29 per cent and 5.79 per cent in the middle and higher salary bands respectively.

After discounting the effect of civil service annual pay increments for seniority, the committee proposed a pay rise of 3.13 per cent, 5.08 per cent and 4.58 per cent for civil servants in the lower, middle and higher salary bands respectively.

Edmond So, the general manager of human resources consultancy Besteam Personnel, said the raise was higher than expected. The firm’s research showed the private market was increasing wages from 3 to 4 per cent between January and April this year.

“Civil servant pay rise is higher by around one percentage point,” he said. “This is probably due to the government referring to last year’s data and is slower to react to economic conditions than the private market.”

The worsening trade war between China and the United States, and a potential slowdown in global economic growth are factors that have made private employers cautious in wage increases.

Industries impacted by the trade war such as manufacturing would see a lower pay rise than those unaffected, he said.

The increase will be confirmed in a meeting to be held by the committee next Thursday.

If it is endorsed, the rise would mark a roughly 0.5 percentage point increment over last year’s increase.

In May last year, the Civil Service Bureau confirmed a pay rise of 2.84 per cent, 4.51 per cent and 4.06 for civil servants in the three bands respectively.

“Government has to consider a range of factors before confirming a pay rise, so this is not final,” said committee chair Lee Luen-fai, a member of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s campaign team in 2017.

“This is just the survey conducted, and we have surveyed 108 companies and 160,000 employees from the private sector. We believed this is representative enough.”

The annual survey of private-sector pay trends is used in considering the pay rises of Hong Kong’s 173,000 civil servants, although the proposed rises still need to be endorsed by the Civil Service Bureau, and then go through the Executive Council.

Steven Wong Hung-lok, chair of the Senior government Officers Association, said the proposed raises were reasonable, and were in line with the raises private sector employees had received.

“We still need to have a discussion within our association before we decide whether to endorse the proposed raises,” Wong said.

Wong has expressed concern over the government’s practise of discounting the annual pay increments for seniority. He said there should be a cap on how much could be discounted.

Li Kwai-yin, vice-president of the Chinese Civil Servants’ Association, agreed with imposing a cap, but she declined to say whether she was satisfied with the proposed raises.


Category: Hong Kong

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