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Survey “smashes myth” of public sector “sickie” culture

29 March 2010

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The idea that public servants are always taking time off sick has been smashed by a new survey, it is claimed.

People working for private companies were less likely than public sector staff to work when they were ill, the TUC survey found.

According to the poll of 2,000 workers, one in five in the public sector had soldiered on while sick during the past month.

The TUC said the evidence should be used to consider scrapping policies that “assume” people skive.

Two out of 10 workers in public sector organisations such as councils, education and the NHS, had gone into work feeling poorly in the past year – 5% more than in private companies.

The union organisation added that public sector workers took longer periods off work when sick, but pointed out that many worked in stressful and dangerous public sector jobs that could cause injury.

Only one in 10 public sector workers said they had never been to work when they were too ill, the study found.

One in three public sector workers said they went to work when ill because they didn’t want to let people down, while others didn’t want colleagues to be landed with extra work.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “It is a myth that there are big, quick and easy savings from new policies that assume that sickness absence is mostly skiving.”

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