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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2284

Senator Baume asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   How many days' sickness were taken by workers in Australia for each ofthe past three years.

(2)   What is the frequency of absence from work because of illness between unskilled workers and professional men and women.

(3)   Do the figures show, as in England, that unskilled workers remain at home because of illness or injury two and a half times more frequently than professional workers.

(4)   Do unskilled workers lose, as in England, four and a half times as many days from work in a year as do professional workers.

Senator Bishop - The Minister for Labor and Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) My Department carried out a survey of absence in a sample of undertakings in October 1973, the results of which have been published in the Personnel Practice Bulletin for March 1974. A rough estimate of the amount of sickness absence in 1973 can be obtained by adjusting the survey findings on absence rates to take account of the industrial distribution of wage and salary earners in the Australian labour force, and deducting estimates of time lost through industrial accidents and diseases. On this basis, an estimated 45 million working days were lost through sickness absence in 1973, representing an average of about 9'/s days per employee. Similar figures are not available for the 2 previous years. (2), (3) and (4) Information was not obtained in the survey to enable comparisons to be made between sickness absence of unskilled workers and that of professional people in Australia. However, the survey indicated manual and nonmanual workers lost 6.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent of rostered time respectively during the period of the survey. Further information is provided by a survey undertaken in 1972-73 by the Public Service Board, on behalf of the Joint Council, of sickness absence among a sample of Australian public servants. This indicated that in the Australian Public Service about 40 per cent of managerial staff and 22 per cent of professional staff took no sick leave in one year, compared with about 9 per cent ofthe sample as a whole.

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