LC Paper No. CB(1) 1290/98-99(03)

Legislative Council

Panel on Public Service
Information Paper on the Provision of Allowances to Civil Servants


This paper serves to inform Members of the existing policy on the provision of allowances to civil servants.


2. Apart from pay, civil servants may receive other benefits or allowances where eligible. These can be broadly classified into two categories: fringe benefits and non-fringe benefit types of allowances. Civil service fringe benefits currently include housing benefits, medical benefits and leave and retirement benefits. These are offered to eligible officers as part of their terms of appointment.

3. In addition to fringe benefits, a range of allowances is currently payable to eligible civil servants. These are to compensate staff when they are required for operational reasons to take up duties which are not normally expected of their particular grade or rank, and which have not been taken into account in the determination of the normal pay scale.

4. The paragraphs below set out the existing policies on the provision of job-related allowances to civil servants. The Annex to this paper contains the 1998-1999 expenditure figures of these allowances. All these allowances are currently under review.


5. The major principle governing the provision of job-related allowances is that the allowances should only be payable to officers when the extra or unusual duties take up a substantial part of their time. If the concerned duties are taken up regularly, other alternatives like regrading or adjusting basic pay to account for the change in job description would be considered.

6. Job-related allowances are administered by Head of Departments, who are required to review at regular intervals the justifications for the continued payment of the allowances.

Acting Allowance

7. At present, a civil servant may be appointed to undertake the duties of a vacant civil service post on an acting basis in the following circumstances *

  1. an officer is appointed to act in a vacancy in a higher rank to test his suitability for substantive promotion to that rank; and

  2. an officer is appointed to undertake temporarily the duties of another post which is vacant for various reasons (e.g. the incumbent goes on leave, on training or on duty visit; the post is time-limited and cannot be filled substantively), sometimes in addition to the duties of his own post.
8.Acting appointments are administrative arrangements made to meet operational needs. Officers who are appointed to act in a post do not receive the pay or fringe benefits of the acting post. If the acting appointments last for longer than certain specified qualifying periods, they would be granted an acting allowance in recognition of the additional duties and responsibilities shouldered by the officers. Current the qualifying period for acting allowance is 14 days for majority of the posts (except for officers undertaking a directorate position in addition to their own (7 days), or officers undertaking a Bureau Secretary/Head of Department post (1 day)).

9. We are currently reviewing the rules for making acting appointments and paying acting allowance to ensure that they remain appropriate under the current circumstances. Some proposals have been drawn up for consultation with departmental management.

Overtime and Related Allowance

10. Civil servants are required to work for a number of hours (conditioned working hours) within a fixed period of time. The Overtime Allowance (and Disciplined Services Overtime Allowance for disciplined staff) is to compensate officers who are required for operational reasons to work beyond their conditioned working hours. A Stand-by Duty Allowance may be payable when officers are required to be at their place of work beyond conditioned working hour but are not actually performing any duty. On-call Duty Allowance may be payable when the officers need not stay in their place of work, but have to report to duty immediately when called to do so outside their conditioned working hours. Officers who perform overtime work or stand-by duty should normally be compensated by time-off-in-lieu. Only when time-off-in-lieu is impracticable should the allowance be given.

11. There are stringent criteria governing the eligibility and payment of the allowances. Some grades, like professional grades, are not eligible for these allowances. Officers at ranks with maximum salary point above MPS Point 25 are also not eligible.

12. There are also circumstances when special duties/continuous overtime work has been undertaken outside officers* conditioned working hours but for which payment of the overtime allowance is inappropriate. An example is the manning of polling stations on election days. In such circumstances, an Honorarium may be payable.

Allowances for extra or exceptional duties

13. Extraneous Duties Allowance (and Extra Duties Allowances for disciplined staff) is granted to officers who take up duties other than those normally undertaken by their rank or grade. Examples are allowances for officers regularly performing diving duties or dialect allowance for court interpreters who have attained certain standards in various dialects.

14. In other circumstances, officers may be required to perform exceptionally offensive or objectionable duties, or dangerous duties, which are not inherent in the normal work of their grade or rank. They will be eligible to claim a Hardship Allowance.

15. Officers who are required to work irregular hours, to report for duty during tropical cyclone warning signal No.8 or Rainstorm Black Warning signals, will receive Shift Duty Allowance, Typhoon Allowance and Rainstorm Black Warning Allowance as appropriate.

16. Other exceptional duties which are not covered by the above allowance may be compensated by Special Allowances when considered justified.

Other job-related allowances payable on a reimbursement basis

17. An officer may receive Local Subsistence Allowance if he is directed to be on duty away from his home for a continuous period of 12 hours or more in any one day. An officer who is on duty outside Hong Kong may also be granted a subsistence allowance to cover additional cost like accommodation, laundry charges, and other incidental out-of-pocket expenses.

18. As a principle, an officer is not normally eligible to claim reimbursement of Travelling Expenses incurred in home-to-office trips. However, to compensate for the additional travelling expenses incurred for officers posted to remote areas, existing policy allows those who work in the New Territories to claim partial reimbursement of home-to-office travelling expenses. If an officer is required to drive his own vehicle for duty purposes, he may claim home-to-office or duty Mileage Allowances as appropriate.

Allowances for Officers Posted Outside Hong Kong

19. As at 1 April 1999, there were a total of 85 officers posted to places outside Hong Kong. They have to uproot their family, relocate to the city of posting and are subject to costs incurred in representing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Government. They are eligible for receiving Disturbance Grant and Special Posting Allowance to cover the additional costs incurred.

20. They will also be granted a Rent Allowance to cover the cost of accommodation, and Leave Passage Allowance to allow them to renew family ties in Hong Kong. Baggage Allowances are payable to cover the cost of transporting their households from Hong Kong to the places of posting. Their losses in salary arising from the fluctuation of the exchange rates between Hong Kong dollars and the local currencies at their places of posting may be compensate by Exchange Compensation Allowance.

Civil Service Bureau
May 1999



1998-1999 Expenditure on Allowances by Categories

Categories of AllowancesExpenditure ($ million)
Acting allowance 532.8 (as at 28.2.99)
Overtime and related allowance

(overtime allowance, disciplined services overtime allowance, stand-by duty allowance, on-call duty allowance and honorarium)

775.1 (as at 28.2.99)
Allowances for extra or exceptional duties
(extraneous duties allowance, hardship allowance, shift duty allowance, typhoon allowance, rainstorm black warning allowance and other special allowances)
202.8 (as at 28.2.99)
Allowances payable on a reimbursement basis
(local subsistence allowance, travelling expenses and mileage allowance. Subsistence allowance paid to officers posted outside Hong Kong not included)
167.9 (as at 28.2.99)
Allowances for officers posted outside Hong Kong
(disturbance grant, special posting allowance, rent allowance, leave passage allowance, baggage allowance and exchange compensation allowance)
45.8 (as at 31.3.99)