The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and NSW flood emergency is evident in the changing patterns of employee leave in 2022.
Table 10.1: Average hours of leave taken per full-time equivalent, public sector, 2018 to 2022
||2018 hours per FTE
||2019 hours per FTE
||2020 hours per FTE
||2021 hours per FTE
||2022 hours per FTE
|Sick leave (paid)
Sick leave increased by 6.7 hours to 64.7 hours per full-time equivalent (FTE) in 2022 (see Table 10.1). This is 4.8 hours per FTE higher than the average rate for the last 10 years, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, the use of special leave increased to 11.2 hours per FTE (+9.0 hours per FTE), the largest amount ever reported. From 2014 through to 2019, special leave ranged between 0.8 and 1.4 hours per FTE. From 2020 to 2022, special leave usage increased due to its application in particular circumstances relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe bushfires in 2020 and the severe flooding in 2022.
Carer’s leave decreased by 0.9 hours per FTE compared to 2021. This is the first year this category of leave has decreased after consistent increases since 2017. This may have been impacted by a number of factors related to the pandemic. There were unique leave arrangements available through special leave to care for close contacts with COVID-19 and the increase in working from home arrangements and extended core hours for many employees may have enabled them to balance some care arrangements with their work.
Recreation leave taken decreased by 2.5 hours per FTE compared to 2021. This decline is consistent across the sector. Recreation leave usage was at the lowest point since 2013, reflecting the impact of pandemic-related travel restrictions and increased rates of sickness hindering planned recreation leave. At the same time, 25.8% of employees had a recreation leave balance of 30 days or more, an increase of 5.8pp since 2019.