PLANT

Extra public sector sick days costing up to $3.5B

CFIB calls for alignment with private sector polices.


TORONTO — Extra sick days disability and personal days taken by Canadian public sector employees in Canada each year are costing up to $3.5 billion, says a report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The Calling in Sick report cites federal employees for taking the most time off, averaging 15.2 sick, disability and personal days per year. The public sector averaged 12.9 days, compared to 8.2 days in the private sector.

The CFIB says there are also 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.

“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. “…The current system has entrenched a feeling of entitlement to those days off that has very little to do with being sick.”

The CFIB notes some public sector workers have the option to bank unused sick days, then take a lump-sum payment or use the days to retire early. Workers who manage to stay healthy can build up months of extra time off and/or pay.

The report recommends sick day allotments be aligned with those offered in the private sector, and for the accumulation of unused sick days to be discontinued.