For discussion FCR(96-97)9
on 10 May 1996
ITEM FOR FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 30 - CORRECTIONAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT
HEAD 122 - POLICE : ROYAL HONG KONG POLICE FORCE
Subhead 002 Allowances
HEAD 62 - HOUSING DEPARTMENT
Subhead 003 Recoverable salaries and allowances
Members are invited to -
- approve the revised formula for the Remote Stations Allowance at Enclosure 1; and
- delegate to the Secretary for the Treasury the authority to approve future revisions to the rates of the allowance in accordance with the formula as approved by Members.
The current basis for calculating the Remote Stations Allowance (RSA) is no longer appropriate.
2. The Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) proposes that the new RSA formula at Enclosure 1 should replace the existing one at Enclosure 2, in order to compensate officers adequately for the social, physical and financial hardship imposed on them as a result of their being required to work and live in remote areas. SCS also proposes to delegate to the Secretary for the Treasury (S for Tsy) the authority to approve future revisions to the RSA rates in accordance with the established formula.
3. Currently the RSA is pegged to the Special Subsistence Allowance. During the last review in 1992, the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service (Standing Committee) considered that there was no particular reason for the RSA to be pegged to the Special Subsistence Allowance. The Standing Committee noted that the purpose of Special Subsistence Allowance is mainly to cover additional expenditure that an officer may incur in situations where, for operational reasons, he cannot return home after a normal spell of duty of eight hours. However, recipients of RSA are required to work and live in remote stations. The Standing Committee considered that the RSA should be a hardship allowance rather than an incentive allowance since disciplined services staff had little choice over their posting and after all, there is an operational need for the departments to man these outposts. The Standing Committee therefore recommended that the Administration should look for an alternative basis for determining the rates of RSA when the allowance was due for review.
4. In consultation with the departments concerned, we have reviewed the basis of calculation for the RSA and have devised a new formula at Enclosure 1 which focuses on the hardship elements. The formula comprises two main components. Component A is to compensate for the physical and social hardship of the officers concerned while Component B is to relieve part of the financial hardship placed on the officer.
5. Officers working and living on outlying islands are subject to physical and social hardship including social segregation, physical fatigue, prolonged travelling hours and constraint on the mobility of officer and his family.
6. Although it is difficult to quantify the physical and social hardship in dollar terms, we make use of the existing Hardship Allowances payable to civilian staff as a reference point. There are three categories of Hardship Allowances, namely Obnoxious Duties, Dangerous Duties and Management Considerations (MC). The first two are standard allowances (i.e. with standard rates pegged to the Master Pay Scale) but the MC allowances are non-standard. The MC allowances are to compensate hardship for a variety of factors such as working in unfavourable conditions which are outside the obnoxious or dangerous categories. Since the RSA is in itself a non-standard allowance and is not related to the dangerous or obnoxious nature of specific jobs, SCS considers it appropriate to link the RSA to only the monthly MC rates. The MC rates have five levels ($659, $538, $418, $298 and $254) the choice of which depends on the degree of hardship in specific work situations. To average out the extent of hardship inherent in specific work situations and the dollar value assigned to it, SCS proposes to adopt the mean of the lowest and the highest monthly-rated MC rates as the starting point (i.e. Component A) in the revised formula.
7. In addition, financial hardship would result from the higher expenditure on transport that the officer and his family will need to incur for travelling between the outlying islands and the urban areas.
8. We therefore consider it fair that an officer should receive compensation for some of the extra financial burden arising from a posting which requires him to work and live in a remote location. We propose to pay the officer and his spouse (or one family member in the case of a single officer) the ferry fare for one return trip from Lantau to Central and the bus fare from Shek Pik to Mui Wo during Sundays and public holidays.
9. For ease of reference, we have listed the significant changes in the revised formula at Enclosure 3.
10. On the basis of the proposed formula at Enclosure 1 and the current ferry fares, we propose to increase the standard RSA rate from $736 by $272 to $1,008 per month. The revised rate should apply to both single and married officers.
11. Although not working on an outlying island, staff working at Cape Collinson have, with Members approval, been drawing an RSA since 1974 at half of the rates applicable to officers stationed on outlying islands. SCS proposes no change to this. Therefore, for staff working at Cape Collinson, SCS proposes to increase the rate of RSA from $368 by $136 to $504 per month. The revised rate should apply to both single and married officers.
12. If Members approve the revised formula, we propose that the new rates of RSA should take immediate effect.
13. On 8 December 1989, )Members considered FCR (89-90)100 and delegated to S for Tsy the authority to approve future revisions to the rates of the RSA in accordance with the established formula. We propose that, notwithstanding the proposed revision to the formula of assessing the RSA, S for Tsy should continue to be given the delegated authority to approve future revisions to the RSA rates in accordance with the formula as approved by Members. We shall continue to consult Members on changes to the formula or points of principles regarding the payment criteria.
14. As at 31 March 1996, the actual number of RSA claimants in the Correctional Services Department (CSD), the Royal Hong Kong Police Force (RHKPF) and the Housing Department (HD) was 1 290, 19 and 2 respectively. If Members approve the proposed RSA formula, and based on the revised rates set out in paragraphs 10 and 11 above, the total estimated additional expenditure in 1996-97 will be about $3.8 million.
15. The above departments have included sufficient provisions under their respective heads of expenditure in the 1996-97 draft Estimates for payment of the revised rates.
16. Staff who are required to work and live in remote stations are eligible for RSA as a compensation for the extra cost and inconvenience of living in remote areas. On top of the RSA, an Additional Allowance (AA) is also payable to officers in receipt of RSA for each child attending school in the urban area, up to a maximum of four children. The RSA and the AA are currently payable to officers working in CSD, RHKPF and HD working on Cheung Chau, Lantau, Lamma and Hei Ling Chau where there is no direct land access. CSD staff in Cape Collinson Correctional Institution in Chai Wan, where the only means of public transport is available for only seven times a day and till 6:30 p.m., are also eligible for RSA and AA but at half the rates to reflect the lesser inconvenience of living and working there.
17. AA is currently payable at the rate of half of the cost of a normal return ferry fare between Mui Wo and Central times 24 which is the average number of school days in a month. The Standing Committee endorsed SCSs recommendation to retain the existing formula together with the restriction of its eligibility to four children. Therefore the present proposal will not affect the formula of the AA. CSD staff in Cape Collinson Correctional Institution in Chai Wan are also eligible for AA at half the standard rate.
Recommendation of the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Services
18. We sought the advice of the Standing Committee in November 1995 on the adoption of the revised formula for calculating the new rates of RSA. The Committee agreed to the revised formula, the current-date-effect principle and the continuation of the present practice of paying the staff at Cape Collinson at half of the standard rate. It also advised that the Administration should use the existing rates of ferry fare for computing the new rates of RSA and AA. Details of the Standing Committees advice are at Enclosure 4. The Administration has accepted this advice.
Civil Service Branch
Enclosure 1 to FCR(96-97)9
Mean of the highest and the lowest level of monthly rated Hardship Allowance (Management Considerations)
[Cost of one return ferry trip from/to Lantau to/from Central plus cost of one return bus trip from/to Shek Pik to/from Mui Wo on Sundays/public holidays]
* for officer and spouse/one family member
# total number of Sundays (52) and public holidays (17) in a year
@ number of months in a year
Component A : to compensate for physical and social hardship i.e. social segregation, constraint on mobility of officer, physical fatigue and insufficient rest due to prolonged travelling hours
Component B : to compensate for extra cost of living in remote areas
Enclosure 2 to FCR(96-97)9
Formula for RSA
|[Daily Special Subsistence Allowance]||x||6*||+||[Cost of one return trip from lantau to Central druing Sundays/public holidays]||x||52#||/||12@
* number of working days per week
# number of Sundays in a year
@ number of months in a year
Enclosure 3 to FCR(96-97)9
The proposed formula in Enclosure 1 involves the following major changes to the existing formula in Enclosure 2 -
- removal of the component of Special Subsistence Allowance;
- injection of the element of hardship;
- inclusion of the cost of one return bus trip from Shek Pik to Mui Wo (for travelling within the outlying islands) for Sundays and public holidays;
- extension of the cost of the return trips (ferry and bus alike) to cover the officers spouse/one family member; and
- inclusion of public holidays in calculating the bus/ferry trips.
Enclosure 4 to FCR(96-97)9
The Standing Committee advises that the Administration should -
- introduce a revised formula for RSA, as shown in Enclosure 1;
- retain the existing formula for AA together with the restriction of its eligibility to four children;
- continue with the present practice of paying the staff at the Cape Collinson Correctional Institution at a reduced rate of RSA and AA (at 50% of the standard rate);
- implement the revised rates from a current date;
- keep under review the continued remoteness of Cape Collinson and consider the inclusion of a definition of remote station into the Civil Service Regulations bearing in mind the increasing urbanisation of the territory ;
- for morale reasons, use the current ferry fares in computing RSA and AA on this occasion;
- continue to seek the advice of the Standing Committee for future revisions to the RSA and AA; and
- give guidance to departments on the application of eligibility criteria.
Last Updated on 2 December 1998