Public sector employees have an average nine days off sick – a figure that is 55% higher than employees within the private sector.
This is according to a recent report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which also revealed that one in 10 employers believe that the absence is not genuine and often used to extend weekends or take advantage of nice weather.
In 2007, 172 million working days were lost, which cost UK taxpayers £13.2bn. It is estimated that if the public sector improved absence rates it would save £1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money.
The report also highlighted that long-term absence was a growing concern, as 5% of all absence resulted in long-term sickness, which cost £5.3bn and accounts for 40% of loss of time.
Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR Policy, said: “We really have to question if there is a medical explanation for the higher levels of long-term absence in the public sector. Low morale, poor management and a culture of absence are at least partly to blame.”