For discussion FCR(95-96)89
on 8 December 1995


New Recurrent Account Subhead "Equal Opportunities Commission"

Members are invited to -

  1. approve the creation of a new recurrent account subventions subhead "Equal Opportunities Commission" under Head 177 Subventions : Non-Departmental Public Bodies;
  2. accept the financial implications of establishing the Equal Opportunities Commission at an estimated annually recurrent cost of $66.4 million; and
  3. note the financial implications, estimated at $5.9 million, of creating under delegated authority a new commitment.


We require funds to set up an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and a secretariat under it to implement the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)Ordinances.


2. The Secretary for Home Affairs (SHA) proposes that the EOC shall receive full and direct subvention from Government as an autonomous statutory body. For this purpose we propose to create a new recurrent account subhead under Head 177 Subventions : Non-Departmental Public Bodies for subventing EOC’s activities. SHA will be the Controlling Officer of this new expenditure subhead.


Functions of the Commission

3. The SDO and the DDO enacted in July and August 1995 respectively make it unlawful to discriminate against a person on grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy and disability, to harass or vilify a person on grounds of disability and to sexually harass a person. The Ordinances cover various areas of activities including employment, education, provision of goods and services, activities of clubs and activities of Government.

4. Section 63 of the SDO provides for the establishment of the EOC which will oversee the implementation of the two Ordinances. The role and responsibilities of the EOC include -

  1. to work towards the elimination of discrimination;
  2. to promote equal opportunities between the sexes and between persons with and without a disability;
  3. to investigate into complaints, encourage conciliation between parties in dispute and provide legal assistance to aggrieved persons;
  4. to develop and issue codes of practice with a view to eliminating discrimination and promoting equal opportunities; and
  5. to undertake the necessary public education and research programmes.

Structure of the Commission

5. The EOC will be headed by a full-time Chairperson to be appointed by the Governor. Given the strong leadership qualities required of the Chairperson and his or her statutory duties, we consider it appropriate to rank the post of EOC Chairperson at that of a Secretary in the Government Secretariat, that is, equivalent to Point 8 on the Government Directorate Pay Scale. Other members of the EOC will be appointed on a part-time basis and may receive an honorarium on a per meeting basis.

6. The EOC Chairperson will be underpinned by a Chief Executive and supported by a secretariat of 64 staff. To carry out the above functions effectively, we expect the secretariat to be organised into the following divisions -

  1. Gender Division
      To handle enquiries from members of the public and various organisations (employers, educational institutes, voluntary agencies and women groups, etc.) concerning the provisions of the SDO.
      To handle complaints lodged under the SDO, including screening, investigation and conciliation.
      To undertake formal investigation and issuance of enforcement notices.
      To formulate the relevant codes of practice under the SDO.

  2. Disability Division
      To perform functions similar to the Gender Division with respect to the DDO.

  3. Legal Service Division
    • To tender legal advice to the EOC and its Secretariat.
      To assist the EOC to exercise the legal powers as provided under the SDO and the DDO.
      To provide assistance to aggrieved persons in respect of proceedings under the SDO and the DDO; and.
      To assist the EOC to draw up proposals for legislative amendments (e.g. amendments to the SDO and the DDO) as necessary.

  4. Administration and Promotion Division
      To provide secretarial support to the EOC and its Committees.
      To provide administrative support to the EOC Secretariat.
      To arrange for research and survey projects on matters of concern to the EOC.
      To arrange for publicity and public education programmes such as seminars, conferences and workshops.
      To establish and maintain contacts with non-governmental organisations and other interested parties.

7. The EOC will appoint its own staff on terms and conditions determined by the Commission. In line with present subvention policy, the EOC shall not offer terms and conditions which are superior to those provided by Government to comparable grades in the civil service. The proposed staffing structure of the EOC, which is subject to agreement of the Commission, is at Enclosure 1. The salary scales of the posts involved at or above the rank of Assistant Secretary are at Enclosure 2. In estimating the resource requirements of the EOC, we have taken into account the functions and powers of the Commission as well as the experience of other similar statutory bodies.


8. Based on the above staffing structure, we estimate that the EOC will require an annually recurrent expenditure of $66.4 million, made up as follows -

$ million

Salaries and allowances


Office rentals, air-conditioning and management fees


General expenses


Overseas conference and visits


Honoraria for EOC members


Publicity and public education


Research expenses


Legal expenses




9. SHA aims to bring the EOC into operation in early 1996. We estimate that the Commission will require a subvention of $5.9 million to meet its operating cost for the remainder of the current financial year. Subject to Members’ approval, we shall provide the necessary supplementary provision in 1995-96 under delegated authority and include sufficient provision in the 1996-97 draft Estimates.

10. In addition, the EOC will require setting up costs of about $5.9 million for fitting out its office, office furniture and equipment and buying two vehicles. If Members approve the creation of the new recurrent account subventions subhead for the EOC, SHA will approach the Secretary for the Treasury for the creation, under delegated authority, of a new capital account commitment of $5.9 million for this purpose.


11. Since the enactment of the SDO and the DDO, we have set up a special team of ten staff headed by a Chief Executive Officer in the Home Affairs Branch to prepare for the establishment of the EOC. Its work includes identifying suitable office accommodation, estimating staff and other resource requirements and developing policies and procedures for the operation of the Commission, personnel and accounting systems and the handling of complaints. In addition, the preparatory team is conducting general background research to facilitate the EOC to prepare codes of practice on employment matters which will provide practical guidance to employers and employees to comply with the law.

12. We briefed the LegCo Panel on Home Affairs on preparatory work relating to the setting up of the EOC on 24 November 1995.

Home Affairs Branch
November 1995

Enclosure 2 to FCR(95-96)89

Proposed salary scales for the Chairperson and staff of the Equal Opportunities Commission


Pay Points


Point D8 of Government Directorate Pay Scale

Chief Executive

Point D3 of Government Directorate Pay Scale


Point D2 of Government Directorate Pay Scale

Legal Adviser

Point D2 of Government Directorate Pay Scale (Legal Group)

Principal Assistant Secretary

Point D1 of Government Directorate Pay Scale

Deputy Legal Adviser

Points 45-49 of Government Master Pay Scale

Chief Assistant Secretary

Points 45-49 of Government Master Pay Scale

Senior Assistant Secretary

Points 34-44 of Government Master Pay Scale

Senior Chinese Language Officer

Points 34-44 of Government Master Pay Scale

Assistant Legal Adviser

Points 32-44 of Government Master Pay Scale


Points 30-44 of Government Master Pay Scale

Assistant Secretary

Points 28-33 of Government Master Pay Scale

Chinese Language Officer

Points 28-33 of Government Master Pay Scale

Last Updated on 2 December 1998