NETs to wait a year for 'fair' allowance review

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am

The Native English-speaking Teachers' Association says it is prepared to wait until next year for a fair review of NETs' special allowance following a meeting with the Education Bureau this week.

Group leaders met with administrators of the NET scheme on Monday to discuss how the HK$12,950 special allowance - to cover expatriates' additional living costs such as rent - should be increased.

NETs also get a retention bonus equal to 10 per cent of annual salary on second or subsequent contracts.

Following rent increases over the past year, more than 470 native- English-speaking teachers have signed a petition calling for the special allowance to be increased by up to 31 per cent, which would take it to HK$18,000. According to Nesta, the bureau initially proposed a rise of around 9 per cent, which would bring the allowance to HK$14,000.

Nesta's figures were based on the Rating and Valuation Department's domestic rental increase rather than the average rental increase used by the bureau, and its leaders argued at a previous meeting that department's measure should be used.

Steven Madden, of Nesta's benefits and welfare committee, said it had now accepted that the average rental index should be used as this was part of the mechanism approved by the Legislative Council in 2005 for updating the allowance, which also calculated the increase based on rent increases from January to June.

'But the bureau explained that the process for monitoring rental prices will now be based on a full year,' he said. 'We would prefer the figures from January to July 2008. But NETs are prepared to wait for a fair increase of the special allowance and accept back-dated payments.'

A bureau spokeswoman said: 'The EdB has had a good exchange of views with Nesta. In reviewing the rate for the special allowance for NETs, the methodology and mechanism adopted for the 2005 review will basically be followed.'