Public servants are taking twice as many sick days as everyone else, data shows.

State Services Commission figures have revealed that government employees have taken an average of 7.6 sick days this year.

While official figures on sick leave aren't kept for the private sector, a survey of 472 businesses conducted this year indicates the average could be around 3.7 days a year.

The survey, done by the Employers and Manufacturers Association, also showed that the average number of private sector sick days taken last year had dropped from 5.3 in 2011.


Association employment services manager David Lowe said the high public servant average could be because of a more relaxed "workplace culture," The Dominion Post reported.

"There is an impression that the workplace culture in the public sector might not be as focused as in the private sector," he said.

The highest number of sick days taken by a government agency was the Social Development Ministry, where staff ticked up an average of 9.2 days each.

The Inland Revenue Department came in at a close second with an average of 9.1 days per staff member.

Social Development Ministry deputy chief executive Marc Warner attributed the high levels of sickness to its staffs' interaction with the public, The Dominion Post reported.

"Sick leave use in operational environments ... is typically higher than that displayed in policy and national office environments," he said.

However, State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said the survey was not an accurate representation of the private sector as only a limited number of businesses participated.

The number of public sector sick days had remained relatively constant, he told The Dominion Post.

Employees are generally given five days' sick leave per year, but some government departments offer more.

The Pacific Islands Affairs Ministry gives its staff 10 days and Inland Revenue Department 15.