For each day employees take off sick, they work two more days while ill, according to a study produced by insurance company LV=.
Rather than the popular idea of workers taking the odd "sickie", the study suggests that people are actually scared of taking sick leave, and are more likely to return to work early from sickness, or just to soldier on.
Britons work 10 days a year while sick, according to LV=, which is partly because the average worker's income drops by £430 a week if they only receive Statutory Sick Pay.
The reasons vary from feeling guilty for being away from work (41%) to worrying that bosses look unfavourably on those taking sick leave (26%). However, a third (30%) cite financial reasons for returning to work early.
Some 7.4 million workers — a quarter of the working population (24%) — are not paid when ill for short periods. This is made up of 1.5 million employees who are only paid the statutory rate, 1.4 million workers on zero-hour contracts and 4.5 million self-employed people.
Long-term sickness can mean a serious loss of income, even for those who qualify for sick pay, as employers are only obliged to pay Statutory Sick Pay of £87.55 per week for up to 28 weeks.
LV= discovered that more than 800,000 British workers have hidden a chronic illness from their boss and five million have hidden issues such as severe stress or depression from their employer.
From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner