LCQ12: Overtime work compensation for teaching staff members of tertiary institutions
A staff union of a tertiary institution has sought my assistance and told me that in order to escort students to places outside Hong Kong for taking part in exchange activities, some teaching staff members of their institution needed to perform duties or to stand by at the airport and on the plane to take care of students. However, among such staff members, those of a certain rank were not given compensation leave because the employer did not regard such staff members as performing overtime work during such period. Regarding the issues relating to the overtime work performed by teaching staff members in escorting students to places outside Hong Kong for taking part in exchange activities, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of (i) the number, (ii) the details and (iii) the follow-up work in respect of the relevant labour dispute cases received by the authorities in each of the past three years;
(2) whether it knows if the various universities funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) have drawn up guidelines in respect of the aforesaid issues; if they have, of the details; if not, whether the UGC will request those universities to draw up the relevant guidelines; and
(3) whether it knows if the various publicly funded tertiary institutions (other than UGC-funded universities) as well as government primary and secondary schools have formulated policies on the aforesaid issues, and how such policies compare with the relevant policies adopted by those policy bureaux (e.g. the Education Bureau and the Home Affairs Bureau) which have made arrangements for students to go to places outside Hong Kong for taking part in exchange activities?
Post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong enjoy a high degree of autonomy in academic development and administration. They can implement their own remuneration and overtime compensation systems that best suit their needs and circumstances, and are accountable for such decisions. The Education Bureau and the University Grants Committee (UGC) generally will not intervene. On the other hand, post-secondary institutions as employers should fulfil their obligations as stipulated in the employment contracts and comply with the applicable labour legislation.
Our reply to the question raised by the Hon Leung Che-cheung is as follows:
(1) The Labour Department (LD) does not maintain statistical data on labour disputes related to teaching staff accompanying students to places outside Hong Kong for exchange activities. Generally speaking, if there are disputes between employers and employees on employment issues, the LD will provide voluntary conciliation services for them to resolve their differences in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements and the terms of the employment contract. If both parties fail to settle through conciliation, the LD will, at the request of the claimant and depending on the amount of claim involved, refer the claimant to the Labour Tribunal or the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board for civil adjudication.
(2) According to the information provided by the UGC-funded universities, each university has put in place its own policy, internal mechanism and rules for handling matters on overtime work and overtime compensation according to the relevant labour legislation, terms, ranks, and types of employment, management and operational needs as well as actual circumstances. Under the principle of institutional autonomy, the UGC has not made any particular rules in this regard.
In general, subject to their ranks and types of employment, eligible staff are entitled to compensation (such as time-off in lieu or overtime allowance) for overtime work performed outside their conditioned working hours set out in their terms of employment. They should apply for such compensation through the established procedures. Their applications will be considered by their department heads having regard to the university's policy and the specific circumstances of each case. The aforesaid compensation arrangements are applicable to the overtime work performed by eligible staff for operational needs when accompanying students to places outside Hong Kong for taking part in exchange activities, irrespective of the place of work and transportation arrangements. For example, eligible staff who are required to perform overtime work at the airport to meet operational needs may also receive compensation.
(3) For civilian civil service grades in general (including civil servants working in policy bureaux and those from non-teaching grades who work in government schools), specific conditioned hours of work are laid down for different grades in the light of the job nature, operational needs and other considerations. According to the Civil Service Regulations (CSRs), overtime work is work which the civil servants are required to undertake in excess of their conditioned hours, irrespective of the day or time on which such work is performed. For individual cases, the actual time and place for performing the required work would depend on the situation. The CSRs also set out the compensation arrangements for overtime work.
As regards the civil service teaching grades, in view of their unique working environment, it is a long-established practice for individual government schools to draw up their school calendars for manpower deployment and work arrangement purposes having regard to their operational needs. The arrangements for conditioned hours of work relevant to civilian grades in general do not apply to the teaching grades. As such, the compensation arrangements for overtime work of civil servants as stipulated in the CSRs are not applicable to the teaching grades.
Apart from the eight UGC-funded universities, the Vocational Training Council (VTC) and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) are also publicly-funded tertiary institutions. The VTC has promulgated guidelines on compensation by time-off in lieu and allowance for overtime work performed by eligible staff (mostly junior staff). Eligible staff can apply for compensation according to the established procedures. Besides, the VTC has made special arrangements for teaching staff of specific ranks. If they need to work overtime for operational reasons, they can apply for time-off in lieu in accordance with the established procedures. In practice, department heads will assess applications for time-off in lieu and overtime allowance according to the policies of the VTC and the actual operational circumstances.
The HKAPA handles matters of overtime work and compensation according to the relevant labour legislation and its internal mechanism.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:35
Issued at HKT 12:35