UK workers took fewer days off sick in the past year, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests.
The number of days taken of sick by UK workers is at a five year low
The average was 8.4 days off sick, down from 9.1 days in the previous year.
However, the CIPD revealed that the gap between the number of sick days taken by public sector workers and those in the private sector widened last year.
On average, public sector workers took 10.3 days off compared to 6.8 for private sector workers.
Absenteeism has reached its lowest level since 2000, the CIPD added.
Overall, though the cost of sickness absence has risen from £588 per worker to £601 during the past year, the CIPD said.
Stress is one of the leading causes of absence in the public sector, it added.
About half of public bodies cited stress as the leading cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers.
Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said that reform of the public services could be a cause of increased stress.
High absence industries
Drink, tobacco and transport 11.6 days
Health 11.6 days
Central government 10.9 days
Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
"Change is one of the biggest causes of stress and there has been a tremendous amount of change in the public sector with employees working within increasingly target-driven and performance managed environments," Mr Willmott said.
Absence levels were highest in local government, the health sector and in the drink, tobacco and transport industries.
The survey of more than 1,000 organisations also found differences in how the public sector manages absence compared to the private sector.
Public sector organisations are far less likely to take disciplinary action against workers who take excessive time off sick, the CIPD found. In addition, sick pay is generally more generous in the public sector.