EU officials take three times number of sick days as British workers

Research suggests only German public sector employees take more sick leave than their counterparts at the European Commission

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The Independent Online

Officials working for the European Union take three times the number of sick days had per year by British private sector workers, according to official figures.

On average, European Commission officials took around 15 days off sick last year, compared to British members of staff taking around five days, a survey from the Confederation of British Industry suggested.

Public sector workers in the UK also took considerably fewer days off sick than their EU counterparts, according to reports from the Telegraph.

The Commission told the newspaper it loses between 3.5 and 3.7 per cent of its working days through sickness, which it said compared “extremely” favourably with some national administrations.

Yet out of the western European countries, only Germany appears to have a substantially worse sickness absence rate of 6.44 per cent. German Federal officials took an average of 19.3 days off sick last year.

According to British figures, 16 per cent of officials at the European Commission earn more than €100,000 (£84,000) a year, and receive their pay at lower “community” tax rates of around 20 per cent.

A spokesman for the European Commission said: “We don't have high sickness absence rates.

“The standard comparison is percentage of working days lost to sickness. While this varies very slightly from year to year, for the Commission it is generally 3.5 -3.7 per cent.

“We find that in fact the commission compares very, even extremely, favourably to national administrations. That is the inconvenient truth.”

Pieter Cleppe, from the Open Europe think tank, told the Telegraph the level of illness among European commission staff was “surprising” given their higher pay and perks.

He said: “That EU officials are off sick so often is surprising, especially when they are paid more, taxed less and tend to have better conditions than either civil servants in member states or people working in the private sector. To the question of more or less Europe, it seems EU civil servants are voting with their feet.”