Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 09:47 UK

Civil servants take 14 sick days

woman sneezing
Social Development staff are off sick almost four weeks annually

Civil servants in the Department of Social Development are off sick almost four weeks a year on average, according to the public spending watchdog.

The NI Audit Office said while absence levels had fallen in recent years, it was 40% above the Great Britain figure.

The average sickness absence in the NI civil service is 13.7 days a year compared to 9.3 in the rest of the UK.

Social Development staff are off sick an average of 18.7 days while at Regional Development the figure is 9.2.

The big difference between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK was not that civil servants were absent more often, but that they were off for twice as long, with female sickness levels twice those of Great Britain.

The Audit Office said the target to bring absence levels down to 9.5 days was a challenge for departments, but added that more could be done to improve the application of best practice.

It said it was "important to encourage a culture of attendance".

NIPSA general secretary John Corey speaking about the figures

NIPSA general secretary John Corey said some civil servants "had been disciplined most unfairly and unjustly, whose careers are being damaged simply because they may have had two weeks of illness".

"What this report highlights and it must not be overlooked is that the Civil Service has failed to investigate the causes of sick absence and that it needs to do that.

"It has also highlighted the particular issue of stress-related absences."

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30 Jan 08 |  Northern Ireland
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19 Jul 07 |  Northern Ireland

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