UK: Council staff take double the sick leave of private sector employees

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Some council employees take an average of 12.5 days of sick leave per year, compared to an average of 5.8 days for staff in the private sector and an average for the public sector as a whole of 8.3 days.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimates that such absences cost local authorities £1.3bn annually, with each person who is absent costing and average of £595.

For the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, the problem is exacerbated by some public sector policies. These include having sick employees on full pay for longer and the failure to discipline or sack people due to their absence or include absence as a measure to evaluate someone during their performance appraisal. The Institute added that the difference between public and private sector rates could be halved within 3 years, including through use of the ‘Fit to work’ note, a measure introduced in April 2010 to replace the sick note.