Thursday 29 September 2016

Public sector sick days cost €320 million in 2014, with workers averaging nine days leave each

David Kearns

Published 06/07/2015 | 17:45

Minister Brendan Howlin, whose department said it had effectively halved paid sick leave for public sector staff
Minister Brendan Howlin, whose department said it had effectively halved paid sick leave for public sector staff

Irish tax-payers forked out almost €320 million to cover the nine sick days taken, on average, by each public sector employee last year.

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New figures show that the average public sector worker took 8.7 sick days in 2014, down from 9.5 in 2013, with civil servants taking almost twice as many sick days as teachers.

Those employed by government departments and agencies took, on average, 10.1 sick days last year, according to figures from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

This cost the Government €43.7 million in 2014.

This figure for civil servants though was less than a third of the €150 million required to cover the 9.6 sick days taken by those working in the public health sector.

The total cost of sick leave across the Public Service for last year was €319.3 million, a decrease of almost 14pc compared to 2013.

These official numbers relate to 245,000 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) across the Public Service, including the Civil Service, local authorities, and the Education, Health, Justice and Defence sectors.

The total number of sick days taken works out at around 2.13 million.     

On average, teachers and members of the Defence forces took off less than six days last year due to illness.

The 2014 statistics represent the first detailed information available since the introduction of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme last year.

This, the Government claims, has effectively halved paid sick leave for public sector staff, saving more than €51 million in 2014 and reducing the rate of sick leave to 4pc.

Under the new scheme, staff allowed a maximum of 92 days on full pay for an illness or injury.

After that, they are then allowed a maximum of 91 days on half pay in a rolling one-year period to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave over a four-year period.

On account of this reduction, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said there were, approximately, an additional 260,000 days worked by public servants in 2014 in comparison to 2013.

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