Data from Costa Rica’s Comisión Central Evaluadora de Incapacidades shows that Costa Rica’s public employees take five times as many sick days as employees from the private sector, according to a report from La Nación.
The data for 2014 shows that 275,000 public-sector employees accumulated close to 1.47 million sick days. That works out to an average of five days per employee. Overall, public-sector sick days cost Costa Rica’s social security system 28.227 billion colóns (about US$53 million).
For the private-sector employees, sick days were less common. Costa Rica’s approximately 1.78 million private-sector employees accumulated about 1.84 million sick days, or about one sick day per employee. Overall, private-sector sick days cost Costa Rica’s social security system 15.2 billion colóns (about US$28.5 million).
The discrepancy in social security coverage per sick day is due the fact that Costa Rica’s social security covers only 60% of public-sector employees’ sick pay, while the government institution for which they work covers the other 40%. For private-sector employees, 100% is covered directly by social security.
Some legislators in Costa Rica claimed that the public-sector employees were abusing their sick days, while others claim that the working conditions are poorer, leading to more illnesses among public-sector employees.
Despite the large difference in number of sick days between public- and private-sector employees, the total amount paid out to public-sector employees declined 3 billion colóns in 2014 from 2013.
The total number of sick days covered by Costa Rica’s social security dropped by 2.5 million between 2010 and 2014.