The Government has announced plans to address the "high" rate of absenteeism among staff in the public sector, and has suggested employees do not receive their full salary during the first three months of sick leave.
As part of the 'National Reform Programme 2012', which has been sent to Brussels for approval, changes are expected to be made with regard to civil servants' "access to and right to continue claiming temporary disability allowance".
Amongst the measures outlined is the "modification of the full remuneration during the first 90 days of sick leave" and changes to the way temporary disability allowance is calculated - in days rather than months - "to accurately reflect the employee's real health situation".
Moreover, salaries will not be paid in cases of unjustified absence or in cases where the employee fails to attend a medical examination.
The Government states that the purpose of this reform is "to reduce the moral hazard associated with securing relatively common contingencies, resulting in a high rate of absenteeism among public sector employees".
It is the Government's opinion that these absences "directly affect public administration productivity, not only as a consequence of the absence in itself, but also because of its negative effect on employee motivation in the workplace and on the work performance of those covering the absentee".
In addition, it is felt that absenteeism contributes "to the temporary increase in public employment, which can also affect labour productivity".
The Government also argues that "since absences are remunerated, absenteeism directly affects the public coffers in an unjustifiable fashion, with the consequent costs for society as a whole".
It is also believed that "after the fourth month of sick leave, there are no adequate control mechanisms that effectively link the payment of subsidies with the real degree of illness or disability".