The junior civil servants who take five WEEKS off sick in a year: Rate has doubled in just four yearsForeign Office junior civil servants took 24.4 sick days off in one yearThe Department for Business was not far behind with 19.6
01:07 GMT, 3 December 2012
Junior civil servants in the Foreign Office took an average of nearly five working weeks in sick days last year, it has been revealed.
The official figures show the Department for Business Innovation and Skills was not far behind.
But the most junior officials in William Hague’s department took 24.4 days off through sickness – a rate that has more than doubled in the last four years and the highest across Whitehall.
Bad figures: William Hague's Foreign Office and Vince Cable's Department for Business Innovation and Skills had the highest number of sick days taken by junior civil servants with 24.4 and 19.6 respectively
Meanwhile junior staff at Vince Cable’s business department called in sick for more than 19.6 days in the year between March 2011 and March 2012.
The cost of Whitehall sick days is estimated to be around 150million a year at a time when ministers are overseeing swingeing departmental budget cuts.
Many state officials receive six months’ full pay if they are sick followed by six months’ half pay – a benefit virtually unheard of in the private sector.
The generous sickness absence rates mean a public sector employee costs an average of 784 a day when they call in sick, compared with 524 in the private sector.
The figures show that in general, sick leave is highest among the more junior staff including administrative staff and assistants.
Well-paid illness: A public sector employee costs an average of 784 per sick day compared with 524 in the private sector
They also reveal that across all civil service grades, average sickness absence is on the way up in several departments.
In the Department for Work and Pensions,
led by Iain Duncan Smith, the average number of sick days has doubled in
four years from 2.6 in 2007/08 to 4.79 in 2011/12.
Eric Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government has seen an increase from an average of 5.3 sick days in 2007/08 to 6.7 in 2011/12.
However, the administrative grades in the department took off an average of 12.1 days – up from 10.1 four years earlier.
Other departments, including the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, have also seen significant rises in the average number of sick days over the last five years.
The figures were released following a parliamentary question by Labour MP Chris Ruane.
in 2011/12 was highest in the Northern Ireland Office, where staff
across all grades took an average of 10.4 days a year.
And at the Department for Transport
the average was 7.9 – considerably higher than the sick rate of 5.8 days
in the private sector.
Sick numbers: The Department for Work and Pensions, headed by Iain Duncan Smith, has seen the average number of sick days double in the last four years
The Ministry of Justice, which last year was exposed in the Mail as being the worst performing department for sickness absence, was not able to supply figures in response to the question.
Ed Davey’s Department of Energy and Climate Change reported the lowest number of sick days, with just three days taken off on average.
Last night Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It is time to end the Whitehall culture that simply shrugs its shoulders at this waste of taxpayers’ money.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We have been taking a much more rigorous approach to monitoring and reporting sick absence…
‘In certain cases officers have been dismissed where they have exceeded acceptable limits.’