Legislative Council Panel on Public Service
Meeting on 27 January 1997
Employment of Short Term or
Temporary Staff in the Civil Service


This paper briefs members on the policy on the employment of short term or temporary staff in the civil service.


2. Members were last briefed on the arrangements for employment of temporary staff at the meeting on 22 January 1996. Members have asked to be briefed again on the policy governing the employment of short-term or temporary staff in the civil service.

Policy Governing Employment of Short Term or Temporary Staff

3. Our policy on employment of temporary staff is that temporary staff should only be employed for part-time duties or specific assignments of a short term nature on a casual or ad hoc basis. They are normally employed by government departments under the following circumstances:-

  1. to cater for seasonal service needs and short-term fluctuations in workload that do not justify maintaining permanent staff;
  2. to undertake ad hoc duties or specific short-term tasks or projects which cannot be accommodated by permanent staff resources;
  3. to cater for temporary shortfall of staff;
  4. to perform duties or tasks requiring staff on a part-time basis; or
  5. to perform duties in posts which are to be deleted for various reasons such as those intended to be contracted out.

4. Temporary staff do not occupy posts in the departmental establishment. They are not classified as civil servants and do not qualify for the normal range of civil service benefits. The arrangements for their employment are governed by Civil Service Branch Circulars and Civil Service Regulations. There are laid down procedures for recruitment of temporary staff which follow those for civil service appointments. Normally, temporary staff may only be employed in the basic rank of the relevant civil service grade.

5. Temporary staff are remunerated on an hourly, daily or monthly basis except for special packages approved by Finance Committee or the Secretary for the Treasury under delegated authority, such as the terms for supply teachers in primary and secondary schools, part-time nurses and part-time simultaneous interpreters. The rates of pay are normally equivalent to the minimum point of the pay scale of the equivalent ranks in the civil service.

6. The terms and conditions of service of temporary staff are determined having regard to the Employment Ordinance and Employees’ Compensation Ordinance and are no less favourable. Benefits include rest days, paid statutory holidays, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, maternity leave, and employee’s compensation. Temporary workers employed for a period of one month or more are normally given an appointment letter specifying the employment period and terms of appointment. They will also be given a copy of the Handbook for Temporary Staff.

7. As far as conduct and discipline during their service with the Government are concerned, temporary staff are regarded as no different to civil servants in respect of their attendance, diligence at work, courtesy to both the public and colleagues, honesty in all dealings, as well as observance of Government regulations and departmental instructions.

Continual Employment of Short term or Temporary Staff

8. Temporary staff should normally be employed for a limited duration on a need basis. Prolonged employment of temporary staff, in particular those who are appointed to discharge full time duties, is not encouraged unless there are strong operational reasons for this. Where staffing resources are required on a longer term basis, permanent posts should be created and formal civil service appointments to these posts should be made. Departments have been advised to review the need for temporary staff regularly to see if their service is still required or if the nature of the tasks has changed such that creation of posts or other means of appointment of a more permanent nature could be considered. When civil service posts on the permanent establishment become available, temporary staff are, as with other members of the public, free to apply. They would be considered on equal terms for such vacancies with other applicants.

9. To remind departments of the arrangements on the employment of temporary staff, we have recently reviewed the relevant circular to, inter alia,

  1. update the conditions of service in line with the provisions in the Employment Ordinance and Employees’ Compensation Ordinance;
  2. specify that temporary staff should only be employed for specific assignments of a short term nature normally within 12 months;
  3. require departments to review the need for temporary staff to see if they are still required or if other means of appointment of a more permanent nature such as creation of posts could be considered; and
  4. remind departments that they should not employ staff intermittently if the effect is that a continuous contract or long term employment is avoided.

The revised circular will be issued following enactment of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 1996.


10. Mrs Philomena Leung, Principal Assistant Secretary (Civil Service)3 is responsible for the subject matter. She may be contacted on telephone number 2810 3100.

Civil Service Branch
January 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998