Massachusetts probation department staffers were reported sick more than 11,000 days last year – the equivalent of 30 years – in a workplace epidemic that has private sector leaders shaking their heads in disbelief, reports the Boston Herald. As state legislators mull what to do with the troubled department, taxpayers paid for 11,165 sick days for probation officers last year – an average of nearly 12.5 days each. That's more than twice the amount used by the average American worker and higher than probation departments in other states.
“That's obviously an absurd statistic,” said Robert Ahearn, chief executive of IGS Systems, a high-tech firm that was forced to lay off 27 people over the past three years. The probation sick-time average has stayed fairly steady for the past four years, ranging between 11 and 13 days. The average American worker, between 2005 and 2008, took 4.5 to 4.7 sick days a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I hate to be flip, but certainly I would be paying attention to someone who took 12 days off,” said Sen. Cynthia Creem, chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee. “It seems high to me.”