A pay freeze this year for Hong Kong's 180,000 civil servants was approved by the Executive Council on Tuesday.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam had hinted at such a move ahead of an Exco meeting, telling the media that she hoped government staff would be willing to help ride out the "difficult times" in Hong Kong.
Lam described the current situation in the SAR amid the coronavirus pandemic as "almost the most difficult in history".
Last month, the Pay Trend Survey Committee suggested across the board pay rises for civil servants this year of between 1.15 and 1.98 percent.
But the Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association called for salaries to be frozen for the next three years in light of the damage the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking on the SAR's economy, with any money staff miss out on made up in the following three years.
The association's Li Kwa-yin said on Tuesday that she was disappointed this proposal was not adopted, saying future salary surveys for civil servant pay will be distorted by this one-year freeze.
Meanwhile, Leung Chau-ting who chairs the Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions said the pay freeze will have a domino effect, with the private sector now going on to cut wages.
Last year, civil servants were given increases of between 4.75 and 5.26 percent.
It took much longer than usual for the extra pay to reach workers, however, with the
storming of Legco by protesters on July 1 and filibustering by pan-dems opposed to increases for police officers delaying the council's approval for the move by many months.