Hong Kong’s civil servants should get pay hikes of up to 5 percent this year, going by the recommendations of a panel that takes into consideration a host of factors including private sector salary movements in the city.
The 2019 Pay Trend Survey (PTS) report, released on Thursday, has suggested that the salaries of middle and lower-ranking civil servants be raised by 5.08 percent and 3.13 percent respectively this year.
Last year, the unified pay hike for middle and lower-ranking civil servants was 4.51 percent, the Hong Kong Economic Journal noted.
For the upper-ranking civil servants, the recommended pay raise is 4.58 percent, higher than the 4.06 percent increase seen last year.
The 2019 PTS report was compiled by the Pay Survey and Research Unit of the Joint Secretariat for the Advisory Bodies on Civil Service and Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service.
The pay revision was based on a pay trend survey conducted by the Pay Trend Survey Committee (PTSC) between April 2 last year and April 1 this year.
The survey, which looked at salary and bonus changes in the private sector so as to use them as reference to use decide pay rises for civil servants, covered 146,116 employees in 108 companies, 80 of which had 100 or more staff and 28 of which had 50 to 99 staff.
The results suggested the gross pay trend indicator for civil servants with the upper salary band was 5.79 percent, while those with the middle salary band and lower salary band were at 6.29 percent and 5.32 percent, respectively.
After deducting the payroll cost of increments, the net pay trend indicator, which is also the actual increase recommended for civil servants is 4.58 percent for the upper salary band, 5.08 percent for the middle band and 3.13 percent for the lower band.
Going by what the government customarily did in the past, it can be expected that civil servants in the lower salary band will get the same pay rise as those in the middle band.
Calling the survey an accurate reflection of the market, PTSC chairman Lee Luen-fai, who is a member of the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service, said an improvement of the pay trend indicators from a year earlier could have something to do with the ideal economic environment during the period.
He added that he believes all stakeholders will accept the recommended pay raises based on the indicators.
Steven Wong Hung-lok, chairman of the Senior Government Officers Association, pointed out the fact that the government continues to hire people as more and more civil servants are retiring. The situation means the payroll cost of increments, which needs to be deducted from gross pay trend indicators when calculating the net pay trend indicators, will only rise in the next few years, he said.
As such, Wong, who expects the future pay hikes to be in a decreasing trend while the payroll cost of increments gets higher in the next few years, said he has suggested that the Civil Service Bureau review the cost and consider introduction of a mechanism to cap it.
Wilson Lai Wai-sang, who chairs the Disciplined Services Consultative Council (Staff Side), expressed hope that all civil servants, regardless of their rank, can get the same pay rise this year.
In response, the Civil Service Bureau said there have been ongoing discussions with representatives from the staff over the issue regarding the payroll cost of increments and that it will continue to gather more opinions.
The PTSC is scheduled to meet next Thursday to confirm the survey results, the report of which will then be submitted to the Executive Council for a final decision after civil service groups agree to the pay package.
The raises, once approved by the Legislative Council, will be backdated to April 1.
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