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Does the Civil Service make you sick?

Asks John Bercow:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much sickness absence there was among staff in his Department in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008".

And Sarah McCarthy Fry pointed him here.

And just because I felt like it, I have charted sick leave by age and by grade:

Note the vertiginous fall in sickies from the lowest grade - admin assistant - to the senior civil service. An average 0f 20 days a year is not far off one day off every other week. Round of applause for the robust 65+ group, not that there are many of them.

For my sins I suffer from self-employed person's health, and am only ever ill when I am on holiday, and have not had a day off either paid employment or education since the 1970s. Funny that....

And now for something completely different. Click on this, and then wait a few seconds. Totally work safe.

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Blogger Ed said... 10:43 am

Chimes in nicely with what I was just saying at work which is that a lot of people have become very complacent. I hope that this British disease abates when the dole queues inevitably lengthen over the next few years.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:56 am

BE - I think lax management shares some of the blame, as once people discover that they can steal from their colleagues - because that's what fake sick leave amounts to - they will keep doing it.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:02 am

It's always a pleasant surprise when the "Conservative in name only" Bercow asks the occasional potentially embarrassing question of the government whose policies he largely supports. I expect though he will spin this into a plea that junior public sector workers are under so much strain from pressure applied from above that they must be given more pay, longer holidays and, BTW, more must be recruited.  

Blogger Idle Pen Pusher said... 6:41 am

Yes, it does. The Idle Pen Pusher is a civil servant so, naturally, takes time off when he is ill.

My take on the causes of the recession, if you're interested...  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:28 am

The civil service allows people to self-certify for up to a week. Provided that they are back at work on Day 8 they don't have to produce a medical certificate. If you go off sick in the middle of the week, Saturday and Sunday are included in the count of seven; but if you are off from Monday to Friday it only counts as five.

The first six months (cumulative) of sick absence are on full pay; the second six on half pay, with a maximum of one year's paid sick leave in every four years.

Managers are supposed to interview staff on return from sick absence, but there is nothing they can actually do about it. It is generally accepted that up to ten days self-certified a year may be taken without question.

In some offices staff take it in turn to have their one day sickie a month.

Where flexitime is worked it is possible to bank up to two days' worth of hours which can then be taken as paid leave. If you add together two days in every four weeks on flexi-leave, one day of sick absence, and two days of annual leave allowance, the average civil servant can be away from work quite legitimately for one working week in every four.

The only consolation is that it scarcely makes any difference to anything that matters. Half the civil service is an arbitrarily-selected collection of people who would otherwise be unemployable and are simply paid a higher rate of incapacity allowance on condition that they pretend to do some office work for thirty-six hours a week. They might as well stay at home really.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:42 pm

IPP - Fair enough. I'll have a look in a bit.

Hesperus - Thank you for the extensive details. I suspect that many large organisations are pretty lax on fake sick leave, but the figures I saw cried out to be noted. One might note that women are sicker / more given to malingering than men, as are provincials relative to Londoners.  

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