Chapter Ten

Unscheduled Absence

  • 64.1 hrs

    per FTE for NSW public sector employees in 2019

By age

  • <50 yrs

    56.9 hrs

    per FTE for PUA in 2019

  • 50+ yrs

    76.2 hrs

    per FTE for PUA in 2019

By salary

  • <$100 k

    66.2 hrs

    per FTE for PUA in 2019

  • +$100 k

    60.3 hrs

    per FTE for PUA in 2019

Paid unscheduled absence (PUA) is a measure of paid working hours lost due to sickness or caring for an immediate family or household member. PUA is a key metric for effective workforce planning as it is an indicator of the productivity and health of a workforce.

The total number of hours of PUA in the NSW public sector increased 1.5% from 2018 to 20,183,435. However, the number of hours of PUA per full-time equivalent (FTE) decreased to 64.1, a reduction of 1.1 hours per FTE (see Table 10.1).

Table 10.1: Paid unscheduled absence (total hours and hours per FTE), total public sector, 2014–2019

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Hours per FTE (non casual) 63.7 65.1 67.1 64.1 65.2 64.1
Change from previous year (hours) 1.4 1.3 2.0 -3.0 1.0 -1.1
PUA (,000 hours) 19,484 19,878 20,512 19,549 19,881 20,183
Percentage change from previous year 2.5 2.0 3.2 -4.7 1.7 1.5

Most services experienced a decrease in hours of PUA per FTE relative to 2018 (see Table 10.2). The highest reduction occurred in the Public Service (-4.4 hours), the Transport Service (-2.8 hours) and the NSW Police Force (-2.6 hours). Decreases were spread across much of the sector, with 65.3% of agencies experiencing a decrease in PUA per FTE. Rates of PUA increased in only two services: the Teaching Service (2.2 hours) and other Crown services (0.5 hours). The largest contributor to the increase in PUA in other Crown Services was the TAFE Commission, where PUA per FTE increased by 8.5 hours compared to 2018.

Table 10.2: Paid unscheduled absence by service, 2018–19
Service 2018 FTE 2019 FTE 2018 hours per FTE 2019 hours per FTE Change (hours)
Public Service 58,091 59,912 69.9 65.5 -4.4
NSW Health Service 109,184 111,619 63.1 61.8 -1.3
NSW Police Force 19,290 19,285 67.3 64.7 -2.6
Teaching Service 60,824 64,629 61.5 63.7 2.2
Transport Service 13,506 12,734 64.4 61.6 -2.8
Other Crown services 35,933 38,237 70.7 71.2 0.5
Total government sector 296,829 306,417 65.4 64.3 -1.1
State owned corporations 7,250 7,565 59.2 57.8 -1.4
External to government sector 978 1,019 52.0 52.0 0.0
Total public sector 305,058 315,000 65.2 64.1 -1.1

The direction of change in PUA per FTE from 2018 to 2019 was consistent across major occupation groups (see Table 10.3). There were reductions in six out of seven occupation groups, with Professionals being the only group to experience no change. The three occupation groups with the highest decreases were Community and Personal Service Workers (-2.6 hours), Machinery Operators and Drivers (-2.2 hours), and Labourers (-2.0 hours).

Table 10.3: Paid unscheduled absence by occupation groups, 2018–191
ANZSCO Major Group 2018 FTE 2019 FTE 2018 hours per FTE 2019 hours per FTE Change (hours)
Professionals 151,252 158,363 60.1 60.1 0.0
Technicians and Trades Workers 12,789 13,048 71.3 71.0 -0.3
Managers 20,234 21,395 52.4 51.9 -0.5
Clerical and Administrative Workers 49,839 51,507 69.0 67.1 -1.9
Labourers 11,927 12,114 75.1 73.1 -2.0
Machinery Operators and Drivers 9,962 9,046 83.1 80.9 -2.2
Community and Personal Service Workers 48,852 49,335 74.5 71.9 -2.6
Total public sector 305,058 315,000 65.2 64.1 -1.1

The Professionals occupation group accounted for nearly half of the sector workforce, and its PUA remained unchanged since 2018. Clerical and Administrative Workers were the second largest occupation group and experienced a relatively large reduction in PUA per FTE (-1.9 hours).

Managers had the lowest overall rate of PUA, with 51.9 hours per FTE in 2019. This is a slight decrease from 2018. In 2019 those with a salary of $100,000 or more took 5.9 hours less leave per FTE than those on lower salaries (60.3 hours per FTE versus 66.2 hours respectively). This is consistent with previous years.

Age

There is a well-established link between the age of employees and the rate of PUA. Consistent with the trend seen in earlier years, average hours per FTE for those aged 50 or over was close to 20 hours higher than for those under 50 in 2019 (76.2 hours and 56.9 hours, respectively). However, the biggest reduction in PUA between 2018 and 2019 was in the 60–64 age band, at -3.2 hours per FTE.

In 2019, there was an incremental increase in hours per FTE with each successive five-year age band, except between the 35–39 and 40–44 age bands (see Figure 10.1).

 

The rate of PUA decreased across most age groups between 2018 and 2019. The exception was in the 20–29 age band, where the rate of PUA increased.

Table 10.4: Paid unscheduled absence by age, 2018–192
Age Bands 2018 FTE 2019 FTE 2018 hours per FTE 2019 hours per FTE Change (hours)
15 to 19 287 353 42.8 40.5 -2.4
20 to 24 9,040 9,909 43.9 44.5 0.6
25 to 29 30,845 32,793 49.2 49.8 0.7
30 to 34 35,973 38,065 56.8 56.6 -0.2
35 to 39 35,054 37,039 61.1 60.1 -1.0
40 to 44 36,516 37,414 60.7 59.6 -1.0
45 to 49 42,282 42,974 61.8 60.6 -1.2
50 to 54 38,274 38,769 64.8 63.8 -1.0
55 to 59 39,714 38,958 75.4 74.2 -1.2
60 to 64 25,390 26,224 87.9 84.7 -3.2
65 plus 11,647 12,460 105.5 103.6 -1.9
Total public sector 305,058 315,000 65.2 64.1 -1.1

Notes

1 The Sales Worker category has been excluded due to its small size, so totals do not match total sector figures.
2 Records where employee age is unknown are included in total sector figures. These accounted for 0.01% of total records in 2018 and 2019.