A report from the TUC counters the myths that UK workers – particularly in the public sector – are always taking "sickies".
The TUC says that Sicknote Britain? shows that Britain is not a nation of malingerers.
It shows UK workers are less likely to take short-term time off sick than in any European country except Denmark. Only Austria, Germany and Ireland lose less working time due to long-term absence.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Sicknote Britain is an urban myth.
"We take less time off than most other countries, and public sector staff are less likely to take time off for a short-term illness.
"When employers complain of sicknote Britain, they are attacking some of Europe's most loyal employees."
The TUC also claims that public sector employees are off sick less than private sector workers.
This contrasts with other research which shows public sector staff take up to 50 per cent more time off than private sectors staff.
More importantly, says the TUC report, a majority of employers accept that most staff time taken off ill from work is because of genuine sickness.
A bigger problem is the high number of workers (75 per cent) who confess to having struggled in to work when they were too ill to do so.
Employers who are serious about reducing levels of sickness absence should be looking at ways of making work more flexible and introducing ways to improve the work-life balance into workers' daily routine, says the report.
Public sector workers tend to be accused of throwing more "sickies" than other workers, but the TUC report claims the average lost through short-term absence is 5.5 days a year in the private sector compared to 4.9 in the public sector.
Longer-term absence is more common among public sector workers, but the report says, this is inextricably linked to the more stressful nature of many jobs in the sector.