Government workers falling sick more often than the private sector
It sucks to get sick but it seems some workers are more vulnerable to illnesses than others.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation analyzed data from Statistics Canada that shows, on average, government workers across the country on in sick 77 per cent more than those in the private sector.
"Government employees, by and large, take way more sick days than the rest of us," said Kris Sim of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
In 2018, the government workers took an average of 12.2 sick days compared to 6.9 days for workers in the private sector.
Federal workers took the most – 12.5 days, one day more on average than provincial government employees – 11.5 days.
But a plague might have struck provincial employees in Alberta last year, with government workers calling in sick two-and-a-half times more than those in the private sector. Across the country, the available data shows the numbers varied, but in all cases government workers called in sick 50 per cent more often than private sector employees, in all but New Brunswick and British Columbia where the numbers were lower, 26 and 34 per cent, respectively.
So what’s leading to this – low job satisfaction, low morale, perceived lack of recognition for a job well done?
"The government employee is typically paid more, they have much more job security, better benefits and they often have better rewards within their workplace," said Sims.
Another phenomenon that has been discovered in past analysis, is that the number of sick days spikes on Fridays, Mondays and the day after a major sporting event.
"Well, who knows what's causing these illnesses," asked Sims. "We do need to get to the bottom of this, because it's costing us money."
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is not encouraging sick workers to show up to spread their germs, but says there needs to be more accountability, especially if there's a pattern of behaviour that indicates possible abuse of sick time from the top on down.
Some governments allow employees to bank sick days and are obligated to pay out those days when workers retire. Many workers in the private sector can't do that and some governments have moved away from that practice - implementing short term disability plans to deal with sick leave.