Number of sacked Hong Kong civil servants triples in 6 years, with increase attributed to stricter handling of misconduct cases

The number of Hong Kong civil servants fired from their jobs has nearly tripled over the past six years, with authorities mainly attributing the increase to the stricter handling of serious misconduct cases.

Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan told lawmakers on Monday that another reason for the surge in sackings was the failure of some government workers to get fully inoculated as required during the Covid-19 pandemic or provide vaccination medical exemption certificates.

According to a paper the Civil Service Bureau submitted to the Legislative Council, the number of dismissals rose from 21 in the 2017-18 financial year to 52 in 2021-22, before reaching 60 in 2022-23. Another 38 civil servants had been fired during the current financial year, as of December, Yeung added.

People walk through the bridge connecting Tamar and the MTR station. Authorities say the stricter handling of serious misconduct cases was the main reason behind the surge in sackings. Photo: Elson Li

“We have become stricter in handling serious misconduct cases,” she said. “When we decide the punishment, we will make reference to the previous similar cases, but it is not necessary for us to follow.”

She added the government required civil servants to either get fully vaccinated before coming to work or provide medical certificates proving they should not receive the jabs.

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“But there are a handful of colleagues who did not get jabbed or provide the certificates,” she said.

“They could not go to work as a result and could not offer a good explanation. They were eventually regarded as absconders. We then removed them from office after a certain period of time.”

The minister said others were dismissed because they had committed offences.

“Committing a criminal offence includes violating the Public Order Ordinance, perverting the course of justice, assault, wounding, fighting and conspiracy to defraud and so on,” she added.

Tamar (CGO) at Tamar, Admiralty. Thirty-eight civil servants have been fired during the current financial year, as of December. Photo: Jelly Tse

Yeung also said that other inappropriate acts leading to dismissal included absence from duty, abuse of power and bringing the government into disrepute

Authorities began to implement a pilot scheme to strengthen monitoring of the processing of summary disciplinary action, such as verbal and written warnings, against officers on probationary or trial terms in four departments in April last year.

Yeung said 21 cases had been processed since the implementation of the scheme.

But lawmaker Ronick Chan Chun-ying said he was worried the handling of some cases would be delayed for a long time after the public servants involved claimed they suffered illnesses.

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Chan said the government should give them enough time to recover before taking disciplinary action. But the minister said checks were in place to ensure the process ran smoothly.

“If we are suspicious of the cases, we will require them to consult designated government doctors to determine whether the cases are really that serious,” she said.

The paper also said the bureau would review the scheme a year after its implementation to identify measures to enhance the effectiveness of instituting disciplinary action and conducting departmental investigation for formal cases.


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