Judith Cochrane MLA said: “The levels of sickness absence in the public sector compared to that in the private sector has been an issue for many years. This is worrying given that the civil service already has a number of work life balance initiatives in place such as flexi-time which wouldn’t necessarily be available in other jobs.
“The fact that the figure has reduced by half a day on last year is better than no change but it is clear that more needs to be done, and as staff costs continue to rise across the civil service, we need to ask if can realistically continue to absorb the £30m associated with sickness absence.
“Having spent seven years working in the civil service, it was evident that there were varying attitudes towards sick absence and perceptions that some returned to work whenever their period of paid sick leave was coming to an end. However, we do need to be careful not to tar all our civil servants with this brush as the 10.1 days lost is an average across all employees, yet more than half of them didn’t have a single day off sick.”