Stress is the main cause of long-term absenteeism among public sector workers, research has found.
Figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) show that stress-related absence levels increased to an average of 9.6 days off a year, three more than employees in private firms.
The study of more than 500 employers calculated that absence amongst public sector staff is costing nearly £900 per worker every year, £300 more than the private sector average.
Dr Jill Miller, a CIPD adviser, said: "The survey shows why closing the gap between public and private sector absence has proved so difficult for successive governments.
"Compared with the private sector, more public sector employees are in challenging public facing roles such as social work, policing, teaching and nursing where they often have to deal with people in difficult and emotionally charged situations, putting pressure on their time and resilience.
"In addition, organisational change and restructuring is cited more commonly by public sector employers than those in other sectors as a major cause of stress, which will only increase in the near future as a consequence of the recent comprehensive spending review."