Statistics Canada's new report, Understanding public-private sector differences in work absences,confirms that comparing sick leave in the private versus public sector is like comparing apples and oranges.
The report's key finding: the public sector employs more women and has an older workforce. Once age, gender and unionization rates are considered, the gap in the public versus private sector is virtually eliminated, amounting to a difference of less than a day per year.
The report also demonstrates that women are far more likely to be absent from work due to illness, disability and family responsibilities. Women continue to bear the bulk of child rearing and family care in Canada. Older workers are also absent more days than younger workers, particularly for reasons of illness or disability.
This report serves to provide context to the numbers released by Treasury Board during Public Service Week last spring on absenteeism in the public service.
For more on the numbers around public sector sick leave see our fact sheet.