More public sector staff calling in sick: StatsCan

Absenteeism cost Canadian economy $16.6 billion in 2012
||Last Updated: 09/25/2013

More public sector employees called in sick during 2012 compared to their private sector counterparts, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

Last week, StatsCan released its report on absenteeism, which indicated public sector employees took an average of 12.4 days off for sickness or personal and family responsibilities. That compares to only 8.3 days workers in the private sector took off.

Because the public sector tends to employ older, female and unionized workers, the four-day difference came as no surprise for unions.

But according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), weighing the public against the private sector is akin to comparing apples and oranges.

“The public sector employs more women and has an older workforce. Once age, gender and unionization rates are considered, the gap in the public versus private sector is virtually eliminated, amounting to a difference of less than a day per year,” PSAC said, adding that, “Women continue to bear the bulk of child rearing and family care in Canada. Older workers are also absent more days than younger workers, particularly for reasons of illness or disability.”

Overall, unionized employees missed an average of 12.9 days for personal reasons last year, as opposed to 7.5 days for their non-union counterparts. And compared to men, women took more time off – as did older employees (compared to younger ones).

This latest report from StatsCan coincides with a recent release from the Conference Board of Canada on absenteeism.

In it, Missing In Action reported employee absences cost the Canadian economy more than $16 billion. Even more concerning is that less than half of the organizations surveyed did not track employee attendance – resulting in a loss of productivity and revenue, the report noted.

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