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LCQ12: Remuneration packages for the services assistants of Hospital Authority

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Pan Pey-chyou and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (February 16):


     Since 2001 the Hospital Authority (HA) has recruited junior staff on contract terms and replaced former posts of Workman II and Clerical Officer II and III, etc. with General Services Assistants (GSAs) and Technical Services Assistants (TSAs) and their remuneration has also been delinked from the civil service pay structure.  Some GSAs and TSAs have relayed to me that their remuneration and benefit packages have remained on the low side for years, and there is also the phenomenon of equal work with unequal pay, which has led to persistent low staff morale and staff wastage, and that staff wastage will in turn affect the quality of public healthcare services.  It has been reported that HA has commenced a comprehensive review of the GSA and TSA grades.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  whether it knows which organisation is responsible for the aforesaid review and when the outcome of the review is to be announced; whether staff will participate in the review process and be consulted, if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b)  given that the remuneration packages for GSA and TSA posts in different hospital clusters or departments also differ, whether it knows if HA will consider setting up a unified ranking, remuneration and benefit mechanism, and formulating uniform employment terms so as to alleviate the unfair situation of different remuneration packages being offered for the same post; if HA will do so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c)  given that the Government has announced earlier that it will remove the employment system commonly known as the "3+3" system and instead civil servants may be offered further appointment on permanent terms immediately after completion of the three-year probation period to the satisfaction of the management, whether it knows if HA will follow the Government's new employment system and abolish the existing six-year contract entry system for GSAs and TSAs by replacing it with a three-year contract which, upon expiry, will be renewed for further appointment on permanent terms; if HA will do so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a)  In 2001, the Hospital Authority (HA) formally established the grades of General Service Assistant (GSA) and Technical Services Assistant (TSA) by setting up a broad-banded grade structure to reduce the constraints of a single-skill grade structure and to make available staff with multi-skills, thereby allowing greater flexibility in the deployment of staff to meet changing operational needs.

     Basically, the remuneration packages for the GSA/TSA grades are determined according to the pay levels in the market and their job duties. Adjustments will be made annually as appropriate having regard to the changes in market pay rates and staff performance. Staff members joining HA at different times may have been offered different pay and conditions of service in the light of the prevailing socio-economic environment and operational needs at the time of their appointment.

     The GSA/TSA grades have been created for nearly 10 years and the market has since then changed considerably. There have also been changes in the operational needs of hospitals.  Under such circumstances, HA decided in mid-2010 to conduct a comprehensive review of the GSA/TSA grades and commissioned a human resources consultancy firm with rich experience in pay structure and grade structure planning to conduct the review. The review covers the grade structure, the overall remuneration package including pay and benefit as well as various terms of employment to ensure that the remuneration packages for the GSA/TSA grades are similar to that offered in the market and competitive. The annual pay adjustment mechanism will also be reviewed in an effort to attract and retain talents.

     The review has started since August 2010 and is near to completion. The consultancy firm is in the process of consolidating the review outcome, and will submit proposals and reports to the HA management and HA Board for consideration.  

     In the course of review, the consultancy firm has conducted consultations with staff through various channels, including nine staff consultation forums held at the HA Head Office and various clusters. A briefing session has also been held at the Supporting Staff Group Consultative Committee, which comprises representatives from various staff unions, to inform staff of the scope of the review and collect their views. In addition, several consultation forums with front line management staff and senior management have been held at the HA Head office and various clusters to ensure that there is adequate understanding of the views and concerns of the management and staff. The consultancy firm has also maintained communications with relevant staff and collected their views through a dedicated webpage and facsimile line as well as designated contacts at the HA Head Office and the Human Resources Departments of clusters. In the review process, over 1,500 staff have participated in the consultation forums and nearly 3,000 written submissions have been received.

(b)  Individual clusters may flexibly decide, under the same pay structure, the remunerations of individual staff members of the GSA/TSA grades in the light of the particular characteristics of their districts as well as the demand and supply of manpower. The current grade review will also examine whether consideration needs to be given to the setting up of a more standardised pay administration system under the principle that a balance should be struck among operational needs, flexibility in administrative management and comparability of the remunerations for posts with similar duties and requirements within HA. A concrete plan has yet to be drawn up, pending submission of the relevant proposals by the consultancy firm to the HA management and HA Board for consideration.

(c)  As for HA's current arrangements for conversion of employment on contract to permanent employment, under normal circumstances, most contract staff including doctors, allied health practitioners, administrative and management staff as well as various ranks of supporting staff are required to have at least six years of services in HA and good performance in order to be eligible for consideration by HA to convert their employment on contract to permanent employment to meet operational needs. HA will review the relevant arrangements as appropriate having regard to the actual operations.

Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:38


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