Public-sector workers take 5 more sick days, on average

TORONTO – A new report suggests public sector employees in Canada take nearly five more sick, disability and personal days per year than Canadians working in the private sector.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says those extra days cost up to $3.5 billion per year, noting some public sector workers can bank unused sick days, then take a lump-sum payment or use the days to retire early.

The CFIB says federal government employees take the most time off, averaging 15.2 sick, disability and personal days per year compared to 12.9 days in the overall public sector and 8.2 days in the private sector.

The federation says there are variances within the private sector, depending on the size of the employer.

Employees in businesses with fewer than 20 employees averaged 6.7 days off, while those in firms with more than 500 employees took 9.1 days, which is still lower than the public sector average.

In its report, the CFIB calls for sick day allotments to be aligned with those offered in the private sector and for the accumulation of unused sick days to be discontinued.

“I don’t think anybody believes that public sector workers just get sick more often, yet something makes them feel entitled to more time off,” said CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly.

“Obviously, we want to be compassionate when people are truly not well, but the current system has entrenched a feeling of entitlement to those days off that has very little to do with being sick.”

“We need to change the system so everybody’s playing by the same rules,” said Kelly.




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Public-sector workers take 5 more sick days, on average

  1. Obviously things like level of exposure to the general public (greater risk of contagion) and the degree of physical labour will be factors, but all these numbers seem high to me. I work in an office environment, and my employer allows seven paid sick days per year. Very few of my staff ever use the entire seven; most, only one or two.

    • Nobody on your staff gets the flu? Maybe many come in sick for fear of the boss laying them off. Older workers also need more time off due to them being susceptible to ailments and sickness connected with age. The majority of Private businesses are not very accommodating to the welfare and health of their workers unless they are really forced to. There are some exceptions of course, but they are in the minority.

      • I really don’t know why our sick rate is so much lower than average. It is certainly not that people come in sick out of fear, as you suggest; we are one of the top-ranked places to work in Canada and have been consistently so for years.

        Some possible reasons may include: less direct contact with the general public; a high percentage of work-at-home staff (even less contact with others); a good health plan and things like on-site flu shot clinics; mostly desk work, so fewer injuries; and very flexible and generous time-off policies that mean people aren’t using “sick” days for other purposes.

        Maybe the national averages seem high to me because I have worked here for 20+ years and so the abnormally low number of sick days seems like it should be typical.

        • The agenda by the CFIB has nothing to do with the sick leave that PS workers take. It’s all about keeping the wages and benefits low so that they do not have to give the same benefits to their employees. It’s about them keeping more of the profits for themselves.

  2. The CFIB has self-serving motives. It is an organization consisting of 109,000 member businesses. It should concentrate more on providing better Pay and Benefits for their employees rather than to slam other employers who are compassionate towards their employees. This organization is well connected with the politicians and do the politicians’ bidding to allow them to use the excuse to slam their employees. The aim of the CFIB is to keep wages lower and to withhold and deny decent benefits to employees who work hard for their meager incomes from the member businesses of the CFIB. They Hate labour Unions because they threaten “THE BOTTOM LINE” . Business is no friend of labour. Labour has no friends and that includes Business Organizations especially the CFIB in collusion with Governments. They are not to be trusted!

  3. With the type of viruses going around today it common to be off work for 5 days in one shot and it’s in the company’s best interest for the sick to stay home. For an entire year 10 days seems reasonable for a public sector enterprise and if the CFIB doesn’t find that a reasonable compromise they can go &#$^$#$ themselves.

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