Sick pay costs $10m a year

Sick days by Government workers cost more than $10 million a year, statistics in a new report on Government efficiency have revealed.

Bermuda public servants take an average of eight days off sick every year — nearly 42,000 days in total.

The SAGE Commission report said that it was unable to get figures for sickness levels for the island workforce — but that the illness rate among public servants on the Island was three times the average for Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.

The report added that around 66 percent of Government workers had “a reasonable level” of sick time.

But it said: “There is a high proportion of Government workers (33 percent) who take an unusually high level of sick leave.

“This group is responsible for the bulk of the almost 42,000 sick days taken in 2012-13.”

The report added: “There are clearly departments with chronic sick leave problems. These need to be investigated thoroughly and those determined to abuse sick leave must be managed appropriately.”

The report details the nine Government departments with the highest level of sick days — an average of at least 20 days off ill per year for workers in these departments who take time off ill.

The Department of Human Affairs tops the league of sick leave, with airport operations and public transportation in second and third place.

Cabinet Office is in fourth place, followed by workers in public lands and buildings and the Post Office. Parks, Works&Engineering and the library service came next in line for illness.

Broken down by union membership, blue collar BIU members take the most time off, followed by the Prison Officers Association, the Police Association, the BPSA, the Fire Service Association and the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

The SAGE report said: “The data suggests a large abuse of sick leave, combined with a poor monitoring of sick leave by senior managers within Government.

“The apparent abuse of sick leave is compounded by the scope and inconsistency of the sick leave entitlements provided in the various collective bargaining agreements.”

BPSU members get paid sick leave ranging from five weeks for people with less than two years’ service to 14 weeks for people who have been in the job for more than four years, as well as an entitlement of eight uncertified sick days a year.

Firefighters with more than five years’ service are entitled to 24 weeks off sick, while BIU members get a maximum of 16 weeks paid sick leave after 16 years.

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Published Nov 16, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 16, 2013 at 9:50 am)

Sick pay costs $10m a year

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