Hong Kong’s civil service has seen the highest number of resignations over the past year since the 1997 Handover. Over 1,800 civil service employees have resigned since mid-2020, according to official figures – around 200 resignations more than the preceding year.

The most recent figures mean that around 1 per cent of the civil service quit in the past year. Hong Kong has around 178,000 government workers as of the end of March.

Civil Servants going to work at the Central Government Offices. File photo: GovHK.

The bureau said the rise in resignations was conservative. “Although the departures of civil servants due to resignation have risen moderately in recent years, the percentage remained at a low level,” a report submitted by the Civil Service Bureau to the Legislative Council read.

The bureau added that the majority of those who resigned left during their three-year probationary period. “It is understandable that probationers, who are at the initial stage of their civil service career, would leave the service during their probationary period if they find it unsuitable to develop a long-term career in the Government,” the report continued.

The resignation figures make up a small percentage of the total 8,500 civil servants who left in the past year – the majority of whom retired.

The rise in resignations corresponds with the introduction of mandated oaths of allegiance to Hong Kong imposed on government employees since last June, when Beijing handed down a sweeping national security law on the city. Critics say the law was designed to quell political dissent.

All of Hong Kong’s civil servants were required to sign a declaration of allegiance in January, prompting a union of civil servants formed during the 2019 pro-democracy protests to disband. Employees who joined the civil service after the enactment of the security law, meanwhile, have been required to pledge loyalty since last October. All employees who refused to sign the declaration faced dismissal.

In March, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said around 200 civil servants had refused to sign the oath of allegiance.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.