Officials warn of crackdown on sick leave

PUBLIC servants in the federal Department of Agriculture took an average of 15 sick days last year, with senior officials warning of a crackdown on leave in the department.

Under questioning during Senate estimates on Monday, officials said staff claimed an average of 15 days off for sick leave last year.

The officials told the committee 57% of those days were claimed using a medical certificate, but that certificates were not technically required.

They said the department would be using the collective agreement under which bureaucrats are employed, to ensure more certificates were used in claiming sick days.

Committee members also asked the department to reveal when the sick days were taken, and whether there was any pattern, such as on days close to public and school holidays.

Answers were expected to be given "on notice" to the committee in the following days.