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.