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Home > Administration of the civil service >> Pay and Allowances

Development of an Improved Civil Service Pay Adjustment Mechanism


On 25 February 2003, the Chief Executive (CE)-in-Council decided that the Administration should in consultation with staff develop, on the basis of the existing mechanism, an Improved Civil Service Pay Adjustment Mechanism which should comprise the conduct of periodic pay level surveys to compare civil service pay levels with those in the private sector, the conduct of annual pay trend surveys (PTSs) based on an improved methodology and an effective means for implementing both upward and downward pay adjustments.

To take forward the exercise, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) set up in April 2003 a Steering Committee comprising selected members drawn from the three advisory bodies on civil service salaries and conditions of service to provide independent and professional advice for the exercise. A Consultative Group involving staff representatives from the Staff Sides of the central consultative councils and the major service-wide staff unions was also formed to provide staff input to the exercise.

In consultation with the Steering Committee and the Consultative Group, CSB examined the relevant policy considerations and the broad framework for the improved pay adjustment mechanism. To keep civil service colleagues and other interested parties informed of the latest developments of the exercise, CSB issued a progress report (PDF format), together with a report summary (PDF format), on 26 November 2003.

The 2006 Pay Level Survey (PLS)

The development of the methodology of the PLS and the carrying out of the field work of the survey involved a lot of technical details. To ensure that the PLS would be carried out in a credible and professional manner, we developed the survey methodology and carried out the actual survey work and data analysis with professional assistance from outside consultants in two phases.

For phase one (PDF format), we appointed a consultant (Phase One Consultant) in November 2003 to provide technical assistance in developing a feasible and credible survey methodology.

Following intensive discussions with the Steering Committee and the staff representatives in the Consultative Group and with the technical support from the Phase One Consultant, CSB issued a consultation paper for extensive consultation between 4 November 2004 and 7 January 2005. The consultation paper contained the proposals on the PLS methodology as recommended by the Phase One Consultant and the CSB's proposals on the general approach for applying the survey results (Details).

Following the close of the consultation period, we received submissions from various parties, including bureau/departmental management, staff bodies, individual civil servants, non-government organisations and members of the public. In the light of the consultation feedback (PDF format), the Phase One Consultant further refined his recommended survey methodology.

Taking account of the Phase One Consultant's recommendations, the outcome of the extensive consultation and other relevant considerations, the Administration decided to conduct a PLS for the civil service using the methodology as recommended by the Phase One Consultant and further refined following the extensive consultation.

For phase two (PDF format), we appointed a consultant (Phase Two Consultant) in June 2005 to carry out the field work of the PLS in accordance with the methodology developed under the Phase One Consultancy.

Under the survey methodology, a job inspection process was carried out with the participation of management and staff to gather detailed job-related information on the civil service benchmark jobs to facilitate identification of broadly comparable jobs in the private sector on which pay data would be collected.

In September and October 2005, the Phase Two Consultant carried out staff consultation on the approach for the job inspection process. Taking account of the consultation feedback, the Consultant finalised the job inspection approach, which was set out in his interim report. In December 2005, the Consultant commenced the job inspection process in accordance with the approach set out in the interim report. The job inspection process was completed with the support of grade/departmental management and the cooperation of staff. The outcome (PDF format) of the job inspection process provided a solid foundation as well as a transparent framework for carrying out the job matching and data collection process. The Consultant completed the PLS, using 1 April 2006 as the reference date and submitted its final report in April 2007.

The 2006 PLS revealed that civil service pay indicators for five respective job levels fell within the plus/minus 5% range of the respective market pay indicators. On 24 April 2007, the CE-in-Council decided that no adjustment should be made to the civil service pay scales as at 1 April 2006. In endorsing the results of the 2006 PLS, the CE-in-Council also endorsed the regular conduct of PLSs at six-yearly intervals, the general framework for the conduct of these surveys, and the general framework for the application of survey findings to the civil service (Details (PDF format)).

Useful Reference

- Phase Two Consultant's Final Report on the Conduct of the 2006 Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service (April 2007) (PDF format)

- Report on the Job Inspection Process (September 2006) (PDF format)

- Interim Report on the Conduct of a Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service: Approach for Conducting the Job Inspection Process (December 2005)

- Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service: Proposed Approach to the Job Inspection of Civil Service Benchmark Jobs (PDF format)

- Comparison of methodologies of pay level surveys (PDF format)

- Consultancy on the Conduct of a Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service - Supplementary information (PDF format)

- Methodology of a Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service: Report on Refined Recommendations Following the Extensive Consultation Conducted between November 2004 and January 2005

- Phase One Consultant's final report on the Methodology of a Pay Level Survey for the Civil Service

- SCS's Letter to Colleagues:

- Papers for Legislative Council:

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