Sickies cost Australia $30 billion

It is estimated that workers taking sick days costs the economy $30 billion a year.

Sickies cost Australia $30 billion

Winter is here, and along with it comes the likelihood of Australian workers taking a ‘sickie’ – but it seems we’re not very good at using our sick days effectively.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the average Australian public sector worker takes about eight to nine days of sick leave annually. It is estimated that workers taking sick days costs the economy $30 billion a year.

Although workers are prone to taking a sickie every now and then, it seems Australians are not so keen to use their accrued annual leave, preferring instead to ‘soldier on’ – even though they are presenting symptoms of sickness.

It is a part of a culture referred to as ‘presenteeism’, which is when people battle through illness and go to work or socialise instead of resting at home. This practice can cost companies as much as sick days, partly because sick workers can spread infection and disease on to their fellow workers, forcing them into taking sick leave.

Dr Brian Morton, chair of the Council of General Practice for the Australian Medical Association, said people are usually contagious a couple of days before they start presenting symptoms, meaning workers in close contact of sick colleagues are at increased risk of catching the cold or flu.

“Most people I think are a little bit stoic and think that it’s just a cold, ‘I can get over it, work’s more important’. But we really need to think about our co-workers and perhaps the people on the bus or the train, so that we’re not spreading it to others.”

To help stop the spread of colds and flu, Mr Morton recommends that people should cough into the crook of their elbow or onto their shoulders in order to stop germs being passed along via hand contact. He also advises that people keep tissues handy, wash their hands often and use antibacterial wipes where possible.



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    9th Jun 2015
    No wonder we are going down the gurgler. Bloody lazy lot.
    9th Jun 2015
    Hey Surfer, well first not every one is lazy mate...........with the virus that hitting more and more in our country.......... and you catch it I say take time out to get better and stop the spreading of this virus I believe it will be deadly this year.......again it better to have one off work than the whole Platoon...........cheers
    Polly Esther
    9th Jun 2015
    Exactly right, tia-maria, couldn't have said it any better.
    9th Jun 2015
    Not referring to genuine cases of the wog.
    9th Jun 2015
    ok surfer
    9th Jun 2015
    Only the Greeks are worse....and never pay back their borrowings.

    When I was working the boss had the right to ask for a medical certificate. So why do we have an issue?
    9th Jun 2015
    Anybody who is genuine about taking a couple of days off work being unwell, should hand in a medical certificate..........
    9th Jun 2015
    Mick You need to understand that some of the medical profession is complicit and give out certificates on request.
    I confronted such a Doctor one day, and he said what am I to do "This is a small town and I have the wife and four kids on my books as patients and if I refuse to write out a sick note, then I will lose the whole family. He will tell all his mates down at the pub and I will lose more".
    Retired Knowall
    9th Jun 2015
    You can a medical certificate at some chemists now for $25.
    9th Jun 2015
    Retired Knowall.....are you for real????? never heard of it.
    10th Jun 2015
    I know the Doc simply asks the patient "when do you think you will be ok to return to work?" However, I do think the Doctors chit is a good idea because at least the employer knows he is involved.
    Tom Tank
    10th Jun 2015
    It was always the case that workers were entitled to a certain number of individual days off work without the need to produce a doctors certificate. It was established on a number of investigations that the "sickie" in fact improved overall productivity.
    If any organisation has an epidemic of "sickies", ie significant number of employees taking days off, then it is often the organisation itself that is "sick".
    Given the low standards of people management within so many Australian companies then sickies are inevitable.
    9th Jun 2015
    the heading of the aticle and what is actually says are opposites. Sick days are valid things. Health and control of infection, and even fatigue in the workplace are worthwhile. Rather people who do take sickies are actually 'saving' the country possibly more than 30 billion...
    we need to build a more sensible culture that encourages people to work scheduled hours, take care of our health, be aware of the symptoms of infectious disease...and try not to spead it. Go home and stay there. rest. get better.
    9th Jun 2015
    plus you are of course aware that claiming that others were 'work shy' or not being stoic and working long hours were hurting the nation...just like this article is headlining, are tactics for wedging a community, breaking it down and making it turn on itself...these tactics were used very succeessfully by the Nazi Party when under the direction of Goebbels. Joseph Hockeys 'leaners and lifters' is one of the lines straight from Geobbels strategy to break down co-hesion in a community.
    9th Jun 2015
    When I first started school teaching very few teachers took sickies.They were a dedicated lot.however,when I retired in the 1990,s teaches were taking sickies left,right and centre.I was n change of getting relief teachers,and often had 6 emergency teachers a day.
    Sometimes you would see the "SICK" teachers out shopping.No more dedication.Many would be sacked if working elsewhere.
    9th Jun 2015
    Not many lefties commenting on this one!
    Ignoring the elephant in the room?
    Sickies are part of the bludge culture in Australia and I even had a union official ask if the pay slip could show each week how many sick days a person had in their accumulation account.
    I said why? He was lost for words and could not adequately say, other than to quote another employer who did just that.
    Of course I knew why, but I said if any one gets seriously sick they can give the pay office a call and get the info.
    One of the workers later joked with me, "How can we plan our long week end boss, when we do not know how many sick days we have got?" ( He was a top worker who did not take the odd Monday or Friday off)
    9th Jun 2015
    Genuine cases of sickness OK. But this country is a complete joke with extended weekends after self inflicted wild weekends. In our day we could get over a hangover real quick. Not like the pampered society we have today. Full of self pity because they have to work. Why are a lot of industries closing down with the unemployment ques exploding. He holds the lantern while his Mummy cuts the wood. Pathetic.
    9th Jun 2015
    I resent it when someone comes to work sick. I don't want their bug. People who take sick days when they are sick are not bludgers, but there is cultural attitude that such people are a 'bloody lazy lot'. Stopping sick people from coming to work saves money in the long run. No employer wants an infected person, or an exhausted person, or an injured person to come to work regardless. That machismo attitude has no place in the modern workforce.

    Then there is the harkening back to the 'good old days' when people, eg: teachers did not take sick leave. Apart from being untrue, as teachers did take sick leave and are just as dedicated now as they were when I was at school, the workload in the excessive reporting, planning, dealing with problems they never used to be responsible for and other duties that didn't exist back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, the average school is not emptied by 3:30pm as it used to be (in the 'good old days') but the teachers continue on and in to school holidays.
    9th Jun 2015
    Stretch,you would have to be joking about today's teachers Stretch.
    I get work to read and correct the reports that they have cut and pasted.
    When I first started teaching we had to log on and off,so our tim e at school was seen by all.We also had inspectors and were happy for them to see what we were achieving.We had no free lessons in which to plan and correct.
    Of course many of today's teachers will tell you how hard they work,and many of them do.But overall I believe many of them are below the standard that once existed.
    May I also point out that our classes had up to 40 students in them and we had exams for all levels from year 7 to 12 every term.All of these exams then were corrected by us.
    I often see some of my ex students and most of them tell me how much better off at school they were than what their children are today.
    9th Jun 2015
    > How many sick days does a public sector worker in Canberra get each year, do they accumulate. Do they get paid their sick days if they don`t use them when they retire?

    > What do those parliament house attendants do when parliament is in recess?

    > What do those com car drivers do when they drive all those parliamentarians to to the
    big house each morning?

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