UK employees take about two days less sick leave per year than their European counterparts, according a major study of absence levels.
The Pan-European Health and Benefits Report by HR consultancy Mercer surveyed nearly 800 companies across 24 European countries.
The data shows that, on average, European employees are absent 7.4 days per year, while workers in the UK take an average of 5.5 days off sick per year.
The highest absence levels were reported by employers in Bulgaria, Portugal, Norway and the Czech Republic the lowest by respondents in Turkey (4.6 days).
Firms also reported that about three-quarters of total lost working time was due to short, frequent absences and about one-quarter due to long-term disabilities. Very large organisations generally reported higher levels of lost time from long-term disability relative to small organisations.
A fifth of respondents believe that, since 2005, the average number of sick days taken per employee has increased.
Musculoskeletal conditions were identified by 78% of respondents as the cause of most long-term absences.
In a comparable US survey by Mercer, respondents reported an average of 5.1 sick days per year.