on 2 September 1997
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF
VARIOUS HEADS OF EXPENDITURE
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the delegation of authority to Controlling Officers to create supernumerary posts, to be held against permanent posts of a lower pay scale, to enable a maximum of 12 staff of the Architectural Services Department, who have become surplus to requirement following the revamping of the Military Group of the department, to take up alternative employment within the civil service.
We need to make suitable arrangements to enable 12 staff members of the Architectural Services Department (Arch SD), who have become surplus to requirement following the revamping of the department ' s Military Group on 1 July 1997, to find alternative employment within the civil service.
2.In the event that the redundant staff are unable to find alternative jobs with the same or higher pay scales in Arch SD or other Government departments, they may have to take up employment in posts with a lower pay scale, while retaining their current salaries. The Secretary for the Treasury, with the support of the Secretary for the Civil Service, proposes that Controlling Officers employing the staff under these circumstances should have the delegated authority to create supernumerary posts, to be held against permanent posts of a lower pay scale, to accommodate these staff.
3.With the handing over of 14 military sites to the Chinese Garrison on 1 July 1997, the Director of Architectural Services (D Arch S) has agreed to provide maintenance service of reduced scope to the Chinese Garrison at the latter ' s cost for a six-month transitional period. Thereafter the Chinese Garrison will fully take up the maintenance of the military camps.
4.The following is a breakdown by rank and the strength of the Military Group before and from 1 July 1997 -
1 July 1997
1 July 1997
|Chief Technical Officer
|Clerk of Works
|Works Supervisor I/II
|Amenities Assistant I/II
5.We have redeployed surplus staff in the Clerk of Works and Works Supervisor grades to other posts within Arch SD, and transferred staff in the General Grades and Motor Driver grade to fill vacancies elsewhere within the civil service. We shall have no difficulty in redeploying the remaining 21 staff in the revamped Military Group after the Chinese Garrison has fully taken over the maintenance of the military sites.
6.Between November 1996 and January 1997, D Arch S consulted the 44 staff in the Amenities Assistant, Artisan and Workman grades whom the department could not accommodate. As a result, half of them opted to retire on abolition-of-office terms, and the other half opted to remain in the civil service. Of the latter category, ten have already accepted appointments to other posts of the same or higher ranks in the Government. The 12 officers still looking for alternative employment include one Amenities Assistant I, one Amenities Assistant II, two Senior Artisans and eight Artisans. To allow more time for them to secure alternative employment, we have set the final discharge date at 1 January 1998. In the meantime, D Arch S has redeployed them to temporary duties outside the Military Group within the department.
7.It is government policy to absorb redundant staff as far as possible. We will give priority to filling vacancies in other grades/departments with redundant staff. If they are only found suitable for posts with a lower pay scale and are willing to accept the appointment, we may allow them to carry, on a personal basis, their existing pay scales and non-job related benefits, provided that this will not cause any serious staff management and staff relations problems to the receiving department or grade. To implement this arrangement, Controlling Officers will need authority to create supernumerary posts at the appointee ' s rank, to be held against the vacant post on a lower pay scale.
8.There will be additional expenditure mainly arising from the differences between the personal salaries and the salaries of the lower ranks to which the staff concerned are appointed. We are unable to ascertain the exact amount as this will depend on the rank of appointment to be offered and also on how long the officers will remain on personal pay scales before their promotion, transfer to another grade or leaving the service. Nevertheless, as the number of staff involved will not exceed 12, we do not expect that there will be significant additional financial implications. As a rough indication, the financial implications would be around $370,000 a year, calculated on the basis of the pay differences between their existing ranks and the likely lower ranks to which they may be appointed.
9.Additionally, it should be noted that if these 12 staff are to retire on abolition-of-office terms for failing to secure alternative employment in the Government, they will be eligible for enhanced pension benefits under the Pension Benefits Ordinance (Chapter 99). It has been our practice to grant an ex-gratia payment equivalent to six times the final monthly salary to officers who have to be made redundant. We estimate that the enhanced portion of maximum commuted pension gratuity will be about $893,000 and the ex-gratia award will be about another $800,000. The annual additional pension payments to them will be about $64,000.
10.Under an agreement of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group on the future of the defence estate in Hong Kong, 14 of the 39 military sites have been handed over for use for defence purposes by the Chinese Garrison as from 1 July 1997 and the other 25 sites have been released on or before 30 June 1997 to the Government for disposal. Since the maintenance work of the former 14 military sites is the responsibility of the Chinese Garrison, and the latter 25 are no longer military sites, we plan to completely disband the Military Group on 1 January 1998 after providing a six-month transitional service to the Chinese Garrison.
11.If the surplus staff of the Military Group are unable to secure alternative employment by the end of 1997, they will have to retire on abolition-of-office terms. If they are able to secure alternative employment, they will have an option period of one year to revert to posts in their original ranks and if such posts are not available at the time of their reversion, to retire on abolition-of-office terms. Alternatively, they may choose to stay on the personal pay scale in the lower rank, or to retire on abolition-of-office terms and be re-employed in the new post at the starting point of the salary scale of the post. In the latter case, we will suspend their monthly pension during their re-employment in such posts, but they will be eligible for the commuted pension (lump sum) gratuity.
CIVIL SERVICE BUREAU COMMENTS
12.Civil Service Bureau supports the proposal to offer personal pay scales and non-job related benefits to redundant staff who are appointed on transfer to other posts within the civil service with lower pay scales.