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News - 15 May 2005

CBI stirs up a row over public sector sickies

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has conducted research that indicates that public sector workers take far too many sick days. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has responded angrily.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling on the Government to tackle the problem of sickness absence among public sector workers, saying that they are far more inclined to take sick leave than private sector workers and that the reasons for this discrepancy should be investigated.

According to the research staff working in the public sector took an average of 9.1 days off sick in 2004, compared with 6.4 days taken by private sector workers. Public sector absences accounted for 40% of the total number of working days lost. This represents a cost to the economy of some £4.1bn.

Not surprisingly the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has reacted angrily to the CBI survey. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said, 'The CBI wants us to think that public sector workers are too ready to throw a sickie and take a few days off whenever they feel like it'. He argues that this is not the case and that “Workers in Britain are not malingerers.”

If Brendan Barber is right then the figures would suggest that private sector workers are putting in the hours even although they are genuinely sick…

…Or could it be that the stress of working in the public sector causes a greater level of genuine sickness than working in the private sector?

Read related items on:
Public sector
Barber, Brendan

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