There has been a gradual but steady decline in absence levels over the past five years, falling from an average 4% of working time lost in 2006 to 2.8% in 2010.
This is according to the 2011 XpertHR survey on staff absence rates and costs, which also found that the average cost of absence in the UK in 2010 was £553 per employee.
Rachel Suff, XpertHR author of the report commented: "These figures show a small but significant drop in absence rates across the economy. This should be heartening news to the government-appointed body that has just been set up to undertake a major review of the sickness absence system in Britain."
Absence was found to be higher in the public sector than in the private sector, with an average of 3.5% and 2.4% of working time lost in 2010 respectively.
The survey also found regional variations in absence rates, with London and the South-East reporting the lowest rates.
The full findings of the survey are available on XpertHR.