Information relating to the NSW public sector wide sickness absence levels, unlike in some other states, are presently not maintained or monitored centrally. The salaries and wages paid to individuals whilst on sickness absence on a public sector wide basis in 1996-97 was estimated to be $368.3m. This estimate does not take into account any flow -on effect resulting from sickness absence, eg overtime or other replacement cost.
Improved management of sickness absence provides an opportunity for the NSW public sector to gain benefits, including the reduction of salary costs associated with people on sickness absence. The salary differential between the sickness absence level currently existing and the sickness absence level reported for the private sector, is around $123m per annum. To assist with the management of sickness absence within the NSW public sector, The Audit Office of NSW developed a Better Practice Guide. This Guide has been referred to the Premier’s Department for consultation as a prelude to its completion and release.