Public service labour contract bill legislation expected soon

A bill establishing a regime for the labour contracting of public services is expected to pass for legislation by mid-August. This bill seeks to integrate the current two types of non-permanent contracts of public servants to a new contract scheme called ‘administrative appointment contract’ that includes a severance compensation system for civil workers. The president of the second standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL), Chan Chak Mo, told reporters yesterday following a closed-door meeting of the sub-committee that it is likely to sign the submissions of the bill in the next meeting, so that the bill may be discussed for its final reading before the end of this AL term on August 15. The bill, having passed its first reading in April 2013, suggested in its original text combining the current fixed-term employment contract and wage-based contract, whilst providing a dismissal compensation equal to up to workers’ three-month salaries. Following the sub-committee’s feeling that the original text needed improvements, the government submitted new text for the bill in May this year, introducing ‘termless contracts’ for public servants on ‘administrative appointment contracts’, providing a full severance compensation scheme based on the current Labour Relations Law. According to the AL sub-committee head, these public servants’ non-permanent contracts will be transferred to ‘long-term’ contracts once they work for the government for two years and their performances are evaluated as ‘very satisfactory’ twice. Meanwhile, after they work for the government for three years and are evaluated as at least ‘very satisfactory’ for two consecutive times, their contracts will be transferred to ‘termless’ contracts. However, Mr. Chan said the city’s prison guards are not included in this new bill as many of them are imported labour. Following civil servants’ contracts being transferred to ‘termless’ ones, they can claim dismissal compensation of as much as MOP284,400 if they are sacked by the government without reasonable grounds. The suggested compensation scheme in the bill suggests public servants working for the government between one and seven years can receive 15 daily salary points per year. Meanwhile, 16, 17, 18 and 20 daily salary points will compensate those working for the government for between 7 and 8 years, between 8 and 9 years, between 9 and 10 years, and for more than 10 years, respectively. In addition, Mr. Chan said the bill will allow the compensation to be calculated monthly if the working tenures of the servants do not reach one year. Meanwhile, the workers will be considered as working for one whole month once they work for more than 15 days in that month. The cap on the amount of the dismissal compensation cannot be higher than workers’ monthly salary by 12 times. Moreover, the total salary points given for the compensation cannot be higher than 300 points (MOP79 per point based on the current law). In addition, the bill also suggests that the contracts of these non-permanent workers will be automatically renewed if the government does not conduct any action 60 days before the end of the original contracts. The government has not drafted the effective date for the bill if it passes the final reading at the AL. However, the legislator claimed that the sub-committee hopes the bill will be effective from January 1 next year.