High rate of sick leave in January

Nearly 94,000 workers had taken sick leave by the end of January, according to figures released by the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security.

Cases of depression resulting from government austerity measures, an escalating unemployment rate, now at 14.8% (read story on this page), and the threat of being out of a job have been blamed for the high number of work absences due to illness, a figure that is expected to rise at least until 2013.

The government is, however, keeping a close eye on sick-leave fraud cases, which are also on the rise.

In 2011, the National Health System (SNS) detected around 53,000 fraudulent sick leave claims out of a total of 217,000 cases investigated.

However, the Secretary of State for Solidarity and Social Security, Marco António Costa, assured that the majority of work absences due to illness are genuine.

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