Rate of sick leave across the public service falls below 4% for the first time

8th July, 2016

Significant savings achieved since introduction of new Scheme by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform


The 2015 Sick Leave Statistics for the Public Service – published on the Department’s website  http://hr.per.gov.ie/sick-leave/  – show that the significant savings achieved in 2014 were retained in 2015 and that further savings were made.


The 2015 statistics (January – December 2015) continue to monitor the impact of the cross-sector reform of sick leave in the public service and show that the rate of sick leave across the public service has fallen below 4% for the first time. This highlights the ongoing positive impact that the new scheme is having on public service productivity.


The figures relate to over 250,000 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) across the public service and include the Civil Service and the Education, Health, Justice, Local Government, and Defence sectors.


Since the introduction of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme:


  • The rate of sick leave across the service has fallen by 0.4% to 3.9%;
  • The number of days lost to sick leave per FTE has fallen by 1.0 days to 8.5 days; and
  • The total cost of sick leave across the public service is now €317.9 million, which represents a cumulative saving of €104.4 million since 2013.

In addition to the statistics published on performance in each sector, information on the Average Days Lost per FTE and the Lost Time Rates are available for each Civil Service organisation.


Welcoming the news, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, TD, said: “While there has been a significant improvement since the reform, the rates of sick leave in areas of the public service remain high and need to be reduced further. To achieve this, management in each of the sectors must focus on the proactive management of absenteeism, and policies designed to assist employers in managing cases of prolonged or frequent absence proactively will be required. This will be a key recommendation in the review of the operation of the Sick Leave Scheme, which is being undertaken by the Department.”


The Department will establish a Public Service Sick Leave Management Forum to provide ongoing support for each of the sectors in managing sick leave in their respective sectors, including the identification of the underlying causes of sick leave and the development of targeted strategies aimed at further reducing sick leave absences.


A target for the rate of sick leave will be set with each of the sectors and this will be monitored on an annual basis. It is also intended for the sectors of the public service to publish sick leave absence rates on an organisational/regional basis, where figures are available.



Notes for Editors


The reformed single Public Service Sick Leave Scheme was introduced under the Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations 2014 (S.I. no. 124 of 2014). The published 2014 Sick Leave Statistics for the public service reflect a nine month impact for most sectors other than the Education sector (Scheme introduced on 31 March 2014 and 1 September 2014 respectively). Comparative information is not available for the Education Sector for 2013 and 2014 as previous statistics related to the school year for 2013/2014 while 2014 statistics relate to the calendar year for 2014. The calendar year reporting brings the Education sector in line with the public service.


The judiciary, members of the Defence Forces and staff of the Central Bank are not included in the Scheme.


Data relating to the majority of non-commercial semi-State agencies, third-level institutions and Education and Training Boards are not currently available.


There is currently a review underway of the operation of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme. The review seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the Scheme and address any operational difficulties and issues which may have arisen following its introduction. A large number of stakeholders across the public service are being consulted including civil service departments/offices, sectoral management, occupational health physicians, and staff representatives.