Public-sector absenteeism in the Balearics was at its lowest when salary cuts were made for days off. | DE

In 2015, there was the loss of 51,477 working days through the ill health of regional government personnel. Therefore, every person employed by the government had an average of fifteen days off sick: there were 3,420 people as of 1 January this year.

This high rate of absenteeism greatly exceeds that in the private sector, albeit that absenteeism data collection for the private sector is less systematic than it is for the public sector. Nevertheless, a study in 2010 by the University of Malaga showed the rate to be two days per worker.

Although the 2015 rate was indeed high, it was in fact lower than in 2014 when there was a loss of 53,721 working days. By contrast, the loss in 2013 had been lower - 49,860 days.

Systematic data hadn't been collected in previous years, though a union representative, Jordi Creuet of the UGT, reckons that the 2013 number was probably one of the lowest in recent years. This was because 2013 was the year when the regional government introduced new cutbacks in the public sector. Under these, employees who were absent for one to four days were paid 50% of their salaries. Between five and 21 days, this was reduced to 25%.

Creuet suggests that there were many employees who were going to work despite being ill as they couldn't afford to lose up to 400 euros per month, which happened in a number of cases.

He believes that the minimum savings these cuts produced for the government were lost in other ways, such as an increased cost to the health service, while other workers fell ill because of contagion. There were, he notes, people going to work with their arms in plaster even though they weren't capable of doing their jobs. He accepts that some people abuse sick leave but says that the number is low. The great majority of workers are professional and take their public service work seriously.