It must be a slow news day when a ninety five year old report is pulled from the shelves and the accumulated dust is blown off. So what gems does The 1920 Royal Commission into the Administration of the Public Service hold?

The author, Duncan Clark McLachlan (page 63), bemoaned ‘the present scale is unduly liberal, and in many cases offers an incentive to unscrupulous officers to absent themselves from duty without sufficient reason. If all sick leave were grantable only on half -pay (although I do not suggest such a course), I am satisfied that the total absences on account of alleged illness would be reduced by a large percentage…Many officers regard sick leave as a vested right, which they are justified in exercising, whether necessary or not. The history of malingering in the Service includes many remarkable instances of the ingenuity of officers in defrauding their departments.’

We do wonder to what extent that this ‘malingering’ was associated with the after-effects of the Great War.

Has anything changed? The average absence rate in 1920 was 12.5 days each year for female bureaucrats and 5.8 days for men. Fast forward to 2013-2014 the average ‘unscheduled leave’ was 12 days across the APS but as this tweet notes: