Federal workers call in sick nearly twice as often as private-sector counterparts: CFIB

The Canadian Press ~ OBJ
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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.

(Stock image)

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.

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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Recent comments

  • Grant
    December 04, 2012 - 16:34

    In spite of a comment to the contrary, cashing in sick days is exactly what happens in the public sector and there is an unfortunate mentality of entitlement among public service employees that is not surprising to those of us in the private sector. I have not missed a day of work in years. The only sick days I actually took were due to an unfortunate illness in the middle of a southern vacation. Private sector employees have a greater degree of responsibility - especially in smaller companies where we truly make a difference. I have no faith in the public sector. Just because it is negotiated as a benefit does not mean that they are an entitlement to be used when not ill.

  • Steve
    December 04, 2012 - 10:15

    Wow...what a surprise! This is not big news and, to be honest, well within the rights of the Fed Gov Employee's since it is written into thier contracts and pushed for by the Unions. I think Dan Kelly means well but until he can get someone at the table during negotiations the greater public will continue to pay for Gov Employees who have all the benefits and sick days.

  • Jacques S. Mailloux
    December 04, 2012 - 09:34

    Your reporter is misinformed. Neither federal nor provincial employees can cash in unused sick days and receive a lump sum payment, as suggested in your article. Sick days can be banked however. A limited number of days can be used when a family member is ill and requires assistance, but most employees may end up using those days when a major illness strikes in later years of employment. Cancer, heart and stroke affect as many employees in the public sector as in the private one. On the other hand, private sector employees often have a limited number of days they can claim from their employer, after which they must rely on unemployment benefits and federal and provincial programs designed to help the disabled. It takes longer for a public sector employee to have to fall back on these programs, which may explain why private sector employees report ill less often.