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€50m spent on paid sick leave, highest in 10 years

Sick leave on the rise for a decade

Paid sick leave cost the government €50 million in 2015, the highest in 10 years, fresh data by the Eurostat shows.

The data by the EU statistics office shows that paid sick leave benefits cost the government €49.97 million, up from €46.8 million the previous year after having been almost constant for two years straight.

The data gives a breakdown of the amount paid to employees who were absent from work during sickness and who return to their job when recovered. The amount paid is the continued, for a limited time, payment of workers’ salaries during the period of sickness.

The amount of sick leave paid to employees has been on the rise for the past 10 years, with the figure being lowest in 2006 when €32.5 million was spent.

On the rise for the past 10 years

While the amount paid was highest in a number of years, the data shows that, it was the lowest when analysed as a percentage of the gross domestic product.

In the year under review, the amount paid was 0.5 per cent of the country's GDP.

In September, Times of Malta reported that public sector workers took three times more sick leave than employees in the private sector. Malta Employers’ Association director general Joe Farrugia had said that while public sector workers took an average of nearly eight days each of sick leave, those in the private sector took just two-and-a half.

Last year, the government announced that it was studying sick leave patterns of public service employees.

Although sick leave is certified by a doctor who visits the employees, the government was still examining patterns to see if there were any administrative changes that needed to be introduced to better tackle the situation.

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