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Covid-19: Civil servants racked up R14.3 billion in sick and incapacity leave

Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 12, 2022

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Cape Town - More than 800 000 civil servants have racked up R14.3 billion in leave taken due to ill-health and incapacity in a period spanning 19 months since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was revealed by Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo when she was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe.

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Gondwe enquired about the total number of public service employees who took leave due to ill-health and incapacity since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She also asked for the breakdown of the number of civil servants in each national and provincial department as well as the duration of leave taken and the cost of the leave for the government.

In her written response, Dlodlo said a total number of 881 152 employees had utilised normal sick leave and incapacity leave from March 2020 to October 2021.

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“The total cost of the Public Service in respect of the normal sick leave and incapacity leave for the period in point amounts to R14 346 032 476,” she said.

However, the costs and the total number of civil servants who took the leave exclude members of the Department of Defence and State Security Agency.

The responses showed that the cost of normal leave taken during the period by 837 296 civil servants in both the national and provincial departments came to the tune of R11 308 991 363.

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Break down of the cost showed was as follows:

* Eastern Cape R778 million;

* Free State R581 million;

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* Gauteng R 1.7 billion;

* KwaZulu-Natal R1.6billion;

* Limpopo R894 million;

* Mpumalanga R398 million;

* North West R441 million;

* Northern Cape R212 million;

* Western Cape R830 million; and

* National departments R3.7 billion.

Dlodlo’s responses also show that a total of R3 037 041 113 was racked up in incapacity leave from 43 856 civil servants across the public service during the same period.

The national departments’ employees took the share of the cost to the tune of R1 261 310 618, while the balance was shared among the provinces.

KwaZulu-Natal led the provinces with incapacity leave that cost the taxpayer R442m, followed by Gauteng R360m, Eastern Cape R271m and Limpopo R133m.

Mpumalanga and Northern Cape recorded the lowest cost in incapacity leave at R71m and R81m, respectively.

However, the good news is that R7.b billion was forfeited in costs of annual leave not taken by 463033 civil servants in both 2019 and 2020.

A total of R1.8 billion was forfeited in annual leave in 2019, while R5.7 billion was forfeited the following year.

Of the amount forfeited, the national departments accounted for a mere R1.9 billion in both years and the difference by the provincial departments.

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