Absence from work is 25 per cent higher in the public than in the private sector, according to an industry report.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) annual Absence Management survey shows that public sector workers take an average of nearly ten days off per employee per year, in comparison to the 7.5 taken by private sector employees.
Absence in the public health sector is at an average of 10.4 days per employee per year.
The findings suggest that differences in attendance management is a contributing factor to this: it was found that public sector employees are "significantly less likely" to discipline or dismiss employees as a result of absence.
"Whilst it is encouraging that overall levels of employee absence and particularly public sector absence have fallen over the last year, the gap between public and private sector absence remains stubbornly wide," said Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser.
Private sector companies are more likely to restrict sick pay for "unacceptable levels of absence" and to take attendance records into account when making performance appraisals, the report finds.