Labour Relations Commission meeting on public service sick leave

Wednesday 2nd May 2012

Representatives of public service management formally outlined their proposals for changes to public service sick leave arrangements at a meeting with unions in the Labour Relations Commission this afternoon (Wednesday). The LRC is now expected to convene another meeting in the near future.

The unions did not accept the management proposals and made clear that their [the unions’] priority is to protect sick pay for staff with serious long-term illnesses, and to maintain a facility for uncertified short-term sick leave.

Shay Cody, the chair of the ICTU Public services Committee told the LRC that the blanket reduction in sick leave arrangements proposed by management would do little to address any abuse of the system, but would have a disastrous effect on those who suffer catastrophic and life-threatening illnesses, regardless of their previous sick leave record. He said comparisons between sick leave levels in the public and private sectors were not always reliable and argued that management already had the tools to deal with any abuse that may exist.

Unions pointed out that the most recent figures from the Comptroller and Auditor General show that 40% of civil servants take no sick leave at all, and that the average amount of uncertified sick leave taken by each employee was well below two days in a year.

“The assertion that sick leave arrangements are treated by staff as additional holiday entitlement is well wide of the mark and management put forward no evidence to support it. The evidence that does exist, from the Comptroller and Auditor General, shows that most public servants take very little of the uncertified sick leave allowed, and most sick leave incidence has been certified as necessary by a doctor,” said Mr Cody.