Ontario's auditor general has found absenteeism at Ontario's correctional institutions remains high, despite offering cash bonuses for not calling in sick.

The province's correctional institutes have a serious problem with absenteeism, including the abuse of sick leave and overtime, according to a report by Auditor General Jim McCarter.

Based on an eight-hour day, correctional officers took an average of 32.5 sick days in 2007 and 33.2 sick days in 2008.

As a result, overtime paid to some correctional officers pushed their salaries to more than $140,000 per year, more than double their annual base salary.

During the 2007/08 fiscal year, the absenteeism cost the government about $20 million in replacement and overtime costs.

The bonuses were introduced in March 2009 to reduce the number of sick days taken by correctional workers. If correctional officers meet targets for sick days set out by the employer, they will receive a lump sum bonus payment.

After bringing in the bonuses, the ministry saved an estimated $3.6 million in costs for replacement workers and overtime payments. The net savings were $1.4 million over a nine-month period.

The average number of sick days has since gone down to 25.4 days. In 2010, workers must reduce their number of sick days to no more than 22 days per year to get the bonus.

Although the bonuses are working, the report noted that absenteeism at many of the province's correctional institutions remains high with about one-third of correctional officers averaging more than 25 sick days per year.

Would you reduce your number of sick days if you were offered a cash bonus in return? Have your say by posting a comment below . . .