11 2 mins 16 yrs

Anyone can be sick, but isn’t it remarkable how MANY sick days are taken by those who work for the State?  I read that a report has revealed that Larne Borough Council staff have been calling in sick more often than any other council workers in Northern Ireland.  On average 20 days per employee are lost every year at the council, mostly due to illness or "stress". Belfast was not far behind, with workers failing to come to work 15 days per year. The report also concluded that councils here compare unfavourably with other sectors and with councils in England and Wales. Absentee rates in councils are also marginally higher than the famously sick Northern Ireland civil service. Surreally, and I did love this bit, the report was also delayed because only five councils met the survey response deadline. Five out of 26. Less than 20% compliance! Maybe the compliance Officer was off sick too?

Why do you think so many Public Sector workers take so many days off sick? I believe it is because they can do so with impunity. The sector is institutionally inefficient so there is no nett loss as a result of these skivers taking time off.

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  1. Skiving at the ratepayers’ expense and getting away with it. They regard it as part of their annual leave entitlement.

    The sooner 21 of the 26 councils are swept away the better.

  2. Northern Ireland

    100,000 new jobs in the last 10 years but 50,000 more on permanent incapacity benefit in the last 10 years.

  3. ‘Why do you think so many Public Sector workers take so many days off sick?’

    I’m not sure if the statistics here are the best measure of this. It would be far better to have some measure such as the % of employees who took more than x sick days in the year.

  4. It irritates me to say the least – as it seems to pervade a lot of attitudes.

    I have a serious rheumatic condition that causes me a lot of pain. Unfortunately in the last year I have had to take a few days off (< 1 week) until the GP got pain and anti-inflamm medication sorted out. Much as work is daft busy, demotivation and frustrating at the time, my preference is to be there.

    What really annoyed me tho was the attitude of the consultant in terms of advancing me onto some of the newer treatments. He wanted to know was I able to work – i.e. long periods off work would help my case. He seemed a bit surprised that I would generally choose to work when I could as long as I had decent pain management. There didn’t seem to be much accounting of those who decide not to let a disability keep them back.

    This is not to denigrate those who have serious continuous painful disability – I know some who are far worse than I and serious pain really does depress someone. But part of it is attitude and wanting/needing to get out and work/be productive etc.

  5. "Why do you think so many Public Sector workers take so many days off sick?"

    For anyone geneuinely interested:


    poor pay,

    incessant bombarding with meaningless management initiatives (borrowed from the private sector),

    seeing jobs being constantly infiltrated by private consultants who then ask employees how to do the work and charge the councils a higher fee for doing it,

    menial jobs (council labourers tend public parks and empty bins)

    injuries and ill-health associated with the nature of the work (above)

    Interestingly, the Protestant work ethic appears absent in Larne but alive and well in Strabane!

  6. Jo,

    I fully accept that management standards are lousy in the public sector and that staff are not encouraged as they should be. And I do take your other points also. Best we shrink the Public Sector and ensure good management, good pay, high standards, and the ending of the sickie culture.

  7. David

    I have a few mates in the Civil Service. One has been in it for over 30 years and he tells stories that would make the hair stand on the back of your neck.

    There are some very good people in the civil service but there are an awfull lot of work shy bums as well!

  8. What’s wrong with the pay in the public sector ?
    It’s higher than in the private sector, AND you get job security and phenomenal benefits, like long-term sick leave and amazing pensions that you don’t contribute to.

  9. NI public sector pay = 100% of the UK average
    NI private sector pay = 80% of the UK average

    Public sector workers in Northern Ireland live like kings.

  10. Oliver/Garfield,

    Council workers here empty bins and mind the parks.
    I can’t say I’ve ever met an overpaid binman, let alone one who "lives like a King"!

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