Aussies Took Nearly Ten Sickies Last Year

Aussies Took Nearly Ten Sickies Last Year

The average Australian worker had 9.9 days of sick leave last year, new data suggests. Does that mean we’re all a bunch of bludgers or have we got the balance about right?

Picture by rengber

A survey absence management consultancy Direct Health Solutions (and reported in today’s Australian Financial Review) suggests that the number of “sickies” has gone up slightly since 2008, when the same figure was 9.3 The numbers are based on a survey of 130 large employers, who estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of “sickies” are not medically related.

While the study extrapolated from its figures to suggest that sick days cost the economy $30 billion, that seems like an overreaction to me. If 10% of sick days are fakes, that means each employee is taking one extra day off work a year. That might not be very fair on their colleagues if they choose a busy period, but I don’t think it suggests the complete collapse of workplace ethics.

Suffered from overwork with too many co-workers taking time out? Can’t remember when you last took a sickie? Tell us in the comments.


  • I think that headline is a little misleading. By the numbers taken straight from the article wouldn’t a more accurate headline be “Aussies took 1 – 1.5 sickies last year”? Not as catchy, I know, but accurate based on the actual article.

  • I don’t understand why more people don’t take their time off. Is the challenge to save up all your sick days right up until you get the plague? I see people coming into work sneezing and hocking up all sorts of stuff. And something in them is telling them that it’s fine to come into work when you’re like that. Those productivity figures don’t take into account how fast an illness can spread around an office and cause three quarters of the office to come down with SARS. When i feel sick, i take the day off. That means i’ll feel better and more productive sooner, AND I’m removing myself from the work situation where i may be infecting everyone i work with.

    More Sickies people!! Do it for Productivity! (and a day off)

  • I always love these articles that simply quote the employer organisations ‘estimates’ of how many fake sickies people are taking each year and how much it’s ‘costing the economy’. They never seem to question how they reach their conclusions. On what factual basis are the quoted statistics based, if any? Spot checks? Surveys? Or simply guesswork?

    We currently have the healthiest, fastest growing economy in the developed world with low inflation and fairly low unemployment. It doesn’t seem our ‘sickie problem’ can be very serious now does it? Heck, perhaps it’s not even a problem at all!

    • @Matt
      I agree – in my (also short) working life of 4 years I’ve only been sick twice, both times when I was genuinely horribly sick – and even then it made me really uncomfortable calling my boss to tell him – even though he was perfectly understanding and even encouraged me to take as long as I need.
      I don’t understand how people can lack so much conscience & pull sickies.

  • The stats are based on ‘a survey of 130 large employers.’ I’m curious as to whether smaller employers have a lower rate, driving the true average down. I’ve been slow to take a sickie when i knew the (small) business owner boss, not so much with a larger employer who treated his workers poorly. It acts almost like a ‘bad boss tax’.

  • I’ve personally had 2 sick days in the last 8+ Years and this is all I’ve needed (touch wood), needing 10 sick days every year seems a little excessive to me personally especially as this is an average, which means there is going to be a number of people abusing the system, we use to have a guy at our smaller company that use to take sick days all the time when he really was not (he constantly boasted about it to staff) also happened to fall during Mondays and Fridays just about all the time. This does make it harder for the genuine workers! I felt sorry for our company as there was not much they could do legally (which I think is VERY wrong!). This is why I am really against people that abuse the system that is there to help them when they need it.

  • Recently retired after 21 years with my ‘last’ employer with around 10 months unclaimed sick leave. Always took the view that ‘something’ might happen… accident, fall off ladder at home cleaning gutters, diagnosed with some gnarly disease….. Nevertheless, I walked away from the equivalent of around $40k ‘unpaid leave’. We all approach sick leave entitlements differently, sometimes we win, sometimes ‘the man’ does.

  • You guys are “Heros” for working to the bone. Congratulations. Give yourself a medal for being a slave to your boss.

    hahaaha… I’m taking Friday off and heading off to the beach with the boys.

  • How do you get one of those jobs that rolls over sick leave? Mine expires at the end of 12 months. If i don’t use it I lose it.
    Also, who gets paid out unclaimed sick leave? that’s unheard of in any job I’ve ever had.

    • I remember when I finished my employment with a company a few years ago, my final pay included any sick leave and annual leave that I didn’t take. But I thought they stopped the exchange leave for cash thing to stop people from working when they really should be recovering in bed?

  • Personally, I’m all in favour of the occasional “Mental Health” Day. If we’re talking about making a real difference to productivity, surely taking a day to deliberately refresh yourself and your ability to work productively is worth it.

    Also, people are not created equal, some people get sick easier than others or suffer chronic pain and need the rest day to function.

  • I used to work in a call centre, and my manager was one of those champions like the commenters above who are boasting about how they never take sick days. He was tough! He was irreplacable! He manned up and just worked through that flu!

    He got everyone else sick. And you can’t work on the phone if you’ve lost your voice, or are coughing constantly. So one manager who didn’t want to take a couple of sick days reduced his own workforce by almost a quarter.

    What a hero, huh? The only thing lower than the morale of the remaining staff was the amount of money we were making.

  • so on average, people take one “non-sick” sick day a year. One doesnt seem very high. ?? And i certainly hope people are staying home when they are sick. I dont care if you have the flu for two weeks straight, stay home!

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