Over 1,000 Hong Kong civil servants resigned from the government in the 2015-16 period, the highest number in 15 years, the government has revealed.

Secretary for Civil Service Clement Cheung told the legislature on Monday that the number of departures was not a cause for concern, as 60 per cent of those who resigned were in their probation periods.

Photo: HKFP/Stanley Leung.

According to the Civil Service Bureau’s latest figures, 1,056 civil servants resigned between April 2015 and April 2016. In the same period, 6,125 retired.

Documents submitted to the Legislative Council indicate that fewer than 1,000 civil servants resigned each year since 2001-02, although the figure has been on the rise.

A survey conducted by the bureau indicates that 19 per cent of those who resigned in the 2015-16 period cited family or marriage reasons for their departure. 18 per cent said they received offers in the private sector, while 17 per cent left to pursue further studies.

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In the three quarters from April 2016 to the end of last year, 809 civil servants resigned, and 5,185 retired.

Hong Kong currently employs some 170,000 civil servants.

‘Not a cause for concern’

Speaking to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Public Service on Monday, Secretary Cheung said the number of resignations – especially among those in probation – reflected the low rate of unemployment and large number of options available to Hong Kong job-seekers.

Clement Cheung. File photo: Stand News.

“Because we hire a lot of people – some 12,000 people a year – the number of departures is high too,” he added.

However, Federation of Civil Service Unions President Leung Chau-ting said that younger civil servants may have resigned due to poorer benefits compared to their older counterparts and high work pressure.

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“Developing a skilled civil servant takes a lot of time, and you cannot be impatient,” he told RTHK.

“I’m not worried about how many people [the government] can hire – I’m worried about how many people you can attract to stay.”

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Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.