Absenteeism soars in federal public sector

Non-vacation leave increases 40 per cent in past decade
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/23/2010

Federal government employees are taking more sick days than in the past, according to data obtained under the Access to Information Act.

Over the past 10 years, the average number of days federal public servants have taken off, excluding vacation, has increased by 40 per cent, according to a Postmedia News analysis of federal data.

In 2000-2001, federal employees took off an average of 12.1 days per year in non-vacation leave. By 2008-2009, that number had jumped to 16.9 days.

Most of those days were for sick leave, which grew 26 per cent in the past decade from 8.8 days per year in 2000-2001 to 11.1 days in 2008-2009.

Uncertified sick leave — leave without a doctor's note — increased by 74 per cent in the same time, from 4.1 days per employee to 7.1 days.

The analysis looked at nearly 168,000 federal employees in 43 departments and agencies. It covered all paid leave taken by full-time employees, excluding maternity and parental leave.

The average working Canadian took 9.8 days off in 2009 for "personal reasons," according to Statistics Canada, which includes leave taken for illness or disability, as well as personal and family responsibilities. This was up from 7.8 days in 1998.

In 2009, the average number of days off for the public sector was 12.6 days and 8.9 days for the private sector.

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