Civil servants off sick most in workplace

More sick leave is taken by people working in the public service than in the private sector.

And one of the highest rate of absenteeism is among staff at the Department of Social and Family Affairs, who take more than double the average amount taken in private firms.

The department had an absenteeism rate of 7.1pc missed days through sick leave. This contrasts with the average private sector rate of 3.5 days per year for certified and uncertified sick leave.

Almost all major public sector employers have higher absenteeism rates than the private sector, with exceptions.

Medical and dental staff in the health service had an absenteeism rate of just 0.93pc. Nurses had a sick leave rate of 5.69pc and “other patient and client care” recorded a rate of 7pc.

But of 60 public sector bodies surveyed, including ministerial departments, county and city councils, the HSE, FAS and RTE, 47 have higher absenteeism rates than the national average for the private sector.


Apart from the Irish Prison Service, support staff such as porters, carers, cleaners and caterers within the health service lost 8pc of their working year to sick leave.

A HSE chief warned recently that there was no alternative but to change work practices and reduce absenteeism, to help slash hundreds of millions in pay costs.

The Comptroller and Auditor General had launched an investigation into civil service absenteeism due to concerns that some civil servants might be taking sick days unnecessarily.

Of the 34 county and city councils across the country, 28 have absenteeism rates of more than 3.5pc. But Wicklow, Galway and Clare County Councils have lower sick leave rates than the private sector.

The lowest level of absenteeism among Government departments was in the Department of Finance at 2.52 pc. Also, RTE (2.42pc), the Courts Service, and Failte Ireland (2.16pc) have significantly lower rates than the private sector.

Other public sector bodies surveyed, included gardai — 4.32 pc; primary teachers — 4.6 pc; secondary teachers — 6.3 pc; FAS — 4.45 pc; the Revenue Commissioners and the Central Statistics Office had higher rates.

– Alan O’Keeffe 


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