Meeting of
Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Public Service
on 25 August 1997

Post-retirement/Post-agreement Employment
of Former Civil Servants

The Policy

Under the pensions legislation, a retired civil servant has to seek prior permission from the Chief Executive before he enters into business or takes up an employment within a specified period after his retirement, if the principal part of his business or employment is carried out in Hong Kong. At present, retired officers at Director of Bureau rank have to seek permission within three years after retirement. Other retirees are required to seek approval within a two-year period. Failure to seek prior permission before setting up business or taking up post-retirement employment may result in the suspension of pensions.

2.Since January 1997, agreement officers ranked at D3 and above are also required to seek prior permission before they take up employment outside the Government within one year after the completion of their agreements. The requirement is written into new agreements offered since January 1997 and is enforced as a contractual obligation.

Objectives and Basic Principles

3.The main objective of the policy is to ensure that former civil servants do not enter into any business or employment which may constitute a conflict of interest with their previous employment in the Civil Service or embarrass the Government. The policy contributes to public confidence in the integrity of the Civil Service.

4.Former civil servants requiring permission to take up post-retirement/post-agreement employment have to provide information covering the details of their prospective employment (e.g. duties, remuneration, date of appointment, etc.), the nature of any previous contacts they had with the prospective employers and their accessibility to commercially sensitive information while serving in the Government. The basic principle to follow in considering applications is that there should be no impropriety in the proposed employment. In this regard, the Administration takes into account the following factors -

  1. whether the officer, while serving in the Government, had been involved in policy formulation or decision which could have benefitted his prospective employer;

  2. whether the prospective employer might gain an unfair advantage over competitors because of the officer ' s previous knowledge and experience;

  3. the public perception of the officer taking up the proposed business or employment; and

  4. especially for senior officers, whether the proposed business or employment would result in an undesirably high public profile, embarrass the Government or give rise to any suggestions of impropriety.

5.When giving approval, the Administration will, having regard to the above factors, consider whether it is necessary to specify a sanitisation period during which the applicant would be barred from taking up the post-retirement/post-agreement employment. The length of the sanitisation period, if any, varies from case to case (sanitisation periods imposed so far range from one month to 18 months). Where appropriate, the Administration may also impose restrictions on the scope of activities to be undertaken by the retired officer, e.g. a ban on involvement by the applicant in dealings between the Government and the prospective employer.

Advisory Committee on Post-retirement Employment

6.To strengthen the approving mechanism, the Government established in October 1987 the Advisory Committee on Post-retirement Employment. The Committee advises the Administration on applications from directorate officers for post-retirement and post-agreement business engagement or employment, and on the principles and criteria to be adopted in dealing with applications in general. The current membership of the Committee is at Annex.

Approving Authority

7.Applications from non-directorate officers are dealt with by the respective Heads of Department/Grade under delegated authority, whereas those from directorate officers are processed centrally by the Civil Service Bureau. In particular, applications from retired Heads of Departments are considered and approved by the Secretary for the Civil Service personally under delegated authority, whereas those from retired officers at the rank of Director of Bureau require the personal approval of the Chief Executive.

Monitoring System

8.To ensure that the strictest standards are applied in the cases of retired senior officials, we have set up a notification system under which all retired directorate officers have to notify the approving authority of any paid employment undertaken anywhere during the specified period. This is to help ensure that possible conflicts of interest arising from a post-retirement employment overseas will not be overlooked.

9.In addition, successful applicants are required to report to the approving authority any material change to the nature of their employment during the specified period.

Appointments Division
Civil Service Bureau
15 August 1997



Advisory Committee on Post-retirement
Employment Membership

Chairman Sir Roger Lobo
Non-official MembersJustice Arthur Leong
Mr Philip WONG Kin-hang
Mr Peter Thompson
(member of the Public Service Commission)
Official MemberMr W K Lam, Secretary for the Civil Service