Correctional services officers will not receive extra pay for being on call after the Court of Final Appeal yesterday dismissed a claim for more than HK$600 million in overtime payments. The court rejected the appeal on the basis that the duty for which the Correctional Services Officers' Association was claiming the overtime - 'overnight on-call duty' - did not qualify for extra payments. Overnight on-call duty requires staff to remain in the 'immediate vicinity' of their prison for 101/2 hours after a shift, so they can be ready for action within 15 minutes. In reality, the officers argue, this often means sleeping at or close to the prison without any hope of getting home that night. At issue was whether the payments fell under the definition of 'on-call' employment, which receives a nominal payment of HK$123 per night, or 'standby', which would have paid up to HK$1,000 per shift. Officers on sleep-in, standby shifts stay inside the prison and are required to be ready to perform their duties immediately. The officers argued there was no real difference between being on call at 15 minutes' notice and being on standby - whereby an officer has to stay at his or her place of work beyond normal hours. Lower courts had found that an officer's place of work was within the walls of the prison. Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang found that the officers' terms of service under Civil Service Regulations could not be construed to create the entitlement for overtime. 'It is not enough that the officer is required to stand by: he must be required to stand by at his place of work,' he said. '[Officers on overnight on-call duty] are not at their place of work. 'Their essential place of work is the penal institution concerned. The requirement of the CSD that officers remain in the area cannot have the effect of transforming the area into their place of work when it is not.' Yesterday the Correctional Services Department would say only that it welcomed the decision. Ho Pui-lam, chairman of the officers' association, said the judgment was disappointing but one that the officers would respect. He said that despite the judges' decision, the officers were still better off because, once the litigation over the payments had commenced, the government reduced the number of officers liable for on-call duty from more than 600 to about 150.