Employees in small companies are four times less likely to take time off sick than workers in large firms, according to a report.
Small businesses, or companies employing less than 250 staff, average just 1.8 sick days per employee over a year, compared with 8.4 days for larger private sector employers and 11.3 days in the public sector.
Four in 10 small employers (43%) also reported no sickness absence in the past year, the research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents 200,000 firms, showed.
The FSB said absence could have a damaging effect on small companies.
Sickness absence costs UK businesses about £12bn a year, according to the CBI.