Public Sector Takes Twice the Sick Leave; New Scottish Figures Reveal High Levels of Absence

Daily Mail (London), October 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Public Sector Takes Twice the Sick Leave; New Scottish Figures Reveal High Levels of Absence


Byline: Andrew Picken Scottish Political Reporter

WORKERS in Scotland's public sector are taking nearly twice as many sick days as their counterparts in private firms. Latest figures show that staff in some taxpayerfunded quangos are now claiming they are too ill to work for up to three weeks a year. Figures published yesterday show the Scottish Executive and the majority of its main public bodies now have rates of sickness above the private sector, where workers take an average of 7.4 days off a year.

Among the worst organisations for the 'sicknote culture' is the Care Commission, which saw its rate of sick days per employee jump from fewer than four in 2007-08 to 12 days the following year.

The National Library of Scotland had the highest total, averaging just over 14 sick days a year per worker, while the Executive has an absence rate of nearly eight days per employee.

On an average day in Scotland's public sector, 12,700 staff are off sick - costing taxpayers more than [pounds sterling]650million a year.

Scottish Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said yesterday: 'It is time to get a grip on absenteeism in the public sector. Even modest reductions in absence rates would save taxpayers millions, without affecting public services.

'The SNP is happy to rant about spending cuts from Westminster - it would be better off tackling problems it is responsible for, such as unacceptably high absence rates in the public sector.' Figures released by the Executive show absenteeism within the biggest public bodies in Scotland jumped by 17 per cent between 2007-08 and 2008-9. …

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