The amount of time lost through sickness absence has fallen to less than 3 per cent in Britain, new research has revealed.

Employees took an average of six days off sick last year, equivalent to 2.8 per cent of working time, compared with 3.6 per cent in 2007. There were lower absence rates in the South-east – 5.3 days – while the highest figure, 6.5 days, was in Wales.

The study of 120 organisations by XpertHR found higher levels of sickness absence in the public sector than in private firms.

The report's author, Rachel Suff, said: "Figures show a slow but sure year-on-year decline in absence levels over the past five years."