If you thought there was something sick about the public service, it turns out you probably were right

It looks like our public servants are a bunch of skivers, unless – of course – you are a leftie tosser and maintain they are stressed and overworked.

Take your pick.

Whether or not they are as healthy as workers in the private sector may well be arguable, but they are much more likely to take time off when they are (or they profess to be) sick.

The SST tells us the difference in a report today –

Public servants averaged 7.7 sick days each last year, compared with 5.3 days for workers in the private sector.

These figures apparently come from The National Employers’ wage and salary survey, based on interviews of more than 39,000 employees.

They found the average worker took 5.3 sick days each year.

The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association commissioned the survey.

A spokesman says its findings highlight the cultural differences between workplaces in the state and private sectors.

Employment services manager David Lowe said 7.7 sick days was high, considering most private businesses provided only the legal minimum of five days.

“It’s just a symptom of the difference between the the private and public sectors,” he said.

“It’s about the culture of the workplace. When people are in that grey zone of not feeling flash, some go in, but others say `I’m going to take the day off’.”

Lowe said there appeared to be a higher expectation in the private sector that staff would work through sickness.

The State Services Commission is reported to have agreed there was more acceptance of government workers calling in sick.

But a spokesman said sick leave had increased in recent years because of extra caution around the threat of infectious illnesses, such as swine flu.

Is this bloke saying greater caution is needed in the state sector than the private?

The Public Service Association provided a different reason.

National secretary Brenda Pilott claimed staff were overworked and stressed.

“Morale among public service staff is low – and dropping. We know from our members that indiscriminate cuts and thousands of unfilled vacancies mean they are under-resourced, handling increased workloads, and unnerved by countless departmental reviews.”

But Alf is putting his money on skiving.

He cites this quote as evidence.

One former public servant who responded to the survey said many workers saw 10 sick days as a target. “If you’re sick in the public sector no one cares, and work does not pile up on your desk.”

Oh, and let the record show the Ministry of Social Development’s staff are among the most sickly, averaging 8.1 days each.

And the reason?

A spokesperson said staff there got sick more often because they had more interaction with the public.

But wouldn’t interaction with the public result in higher sickie rates at outfits like McDonald’s, cinemas and – of course – GPs’ surgeries.

Oh, and here’s something for the disciples of much-maligned Alasdair Thompson.

At the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, staff averaged 7.63 sick days.

Female staff took eight days, while male staff took five.

But credit where it’s due: Ministry of Economic Development average just 1.5 sick days a year.

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