A sickening thought

There is an item in the Times today.

€430m sick leave bill in public sector ‘unsustainable’

The article starts off – The cost of sick leave in the public sector is “unsustainable” and is costing the State about €430 million, internal Government documents show.

So they are claiming that the taxpayer is lumbered with a €430 million bill due to sick leave?


How does someone taking a 'sickie' cost the state [i.e. me] anything?

If a nurse or a teacher goes absent even for a week, it doesn't cost me a red cent.  Their workload will possibly suffer and generally what happens is that co-workers will step into the breach and do a little extra, or the work will simply pile up until that person returns.  Either way, it doesn't cost anyone anything except maybe a lot of frustration.

I suppose someone will put up an argument that extra staff would have to be hired to fill the breach, but that's a load of bollox.  If Garda Rafferty takes a week off, are they seriously going to employ a temporary garda to work for a week?  Maybe there is a case for having a standby roster of agency nurses to work in a large hospital but I refuse to believe that those agencies will charge nearly half a billion?

And what are they publishing these figures for?  What do they hope to achieve?  If my next door neighbour were a teacher and I know he has taken a Monday off because of a hangover, am I supposed to call around and beat the shite out of him because he is "costing the state"?   If there is a lot of sick leave in a particular sector of employment, it's up to the supervisors or the management to find the cause and sort it out.  It certainly has fuck all to do with me or even the gubmint.

If they want to talk about money being wasted, then I have a simple question.

How much does it cost the state [i.e. me] to employ all these people who spend their entire working lives sifting through figures to produce meaningless reports?

Now that is a real cost to the taxpayer.

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A sickening thought — 11 Comments


    'Cost to the taxpayer' is an old chestnut normally used by the lazy politicos to keep the sheeple in line with some fabricated form of secret guilt. It's a variation of that other chestnut, 'a burden on the State.' 


    However, it might be judicious to point out that payment for sick days does not exist in most of the private sector …….. just saying!

    • Payment for sick days might not exist in Ireland, but it does in the UK


      Theroetically we pay our staff for the first four days before SSP cuts in, and I think that the SSP is actually claimed back from the Government through reduced NI payments.

      In practice, we pay all our staff in full for the few days they take off sick (not worth the extra admin, and they don't swing the lead), with one exception. This year, one staff member has taken five times the sick days off of the other dozen staff combined, so goes straight on to SSP.

      • As far as I am aware the public sector [which is the subject of the report] provides a number of uncertified sick days [usually around five] per year which are included in the salary conditions.  Certified sick leave is also paid on full salary up to something like six months, after which the salary is reduced considerably.

    • If we are talking about the private sector then the entire "cost" of sick leave falls to the owners of the business in lost productivity.  If a person takes too many days off then it is presumably at the employer's discretion to replace him [or her] with a healthier individual?

        • So as here the 'taxpayer' funds the 'sickies' in more ways than one and the 'cost to government' is zero as the government.

      • Aha! The private sector employer has the discretion to replace the perennial sickie but public servants, (in Ireland), cannot be fired for being sick. In my own experience in the private sector, it was rare to be out sick and when it did happen, it was for a day or two at most, (hospital procedures excluded). The worry was that with the best willin the world, your boss would get impatient and begin to consider a replacement. Once this mental process even began, your job was under threat. If you were out then you had the added worry of work piling up in your absence and that had to be done by you when you got back. As such, sick days were rarely even an issue in my day.Perhaps this has all changed?

        • In the private sector there is indeed a cost to the public purse, as Benefits may have to be paid out.  However in the public sector either the person gets paid sick leave OR social welfare, therefore there is no additional cost.

          Personally I only worked in the private sector for a short time [a couple of years back in the Seventies] so I can't really comment on the current setup there.

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