Over a quarter (26%) of employees have called in sick to work when they weren't ill; according to research from Canada Life.
The insurer's poll found that 29% called in sick due to feeling tired, or stressed because of their job.
Over one in six (17%) of those who have called in sick, despite not being ill, did so because they were tired. 12% of respondents said they needed time off due to work-related stress but didn't want to admit it.
This suggests employee ‘burnout', caused by a lopsided work/life balance, is one of the leading causes of absenteeism.
It also highlighted a "concerning lack" of communication between employees and their employers when conditions in the workplace are contributing to poor health; Canada Life said.
Employer attitudes towards staff leave are also a significant cause of unnecessary absence: almost a quarter (23%) felt they had to call in sick because they had a family emergency but did not want to use annual leave, while one in ten (9%) wanted time off but instead called in sick as their employer made them feel guilty about taking annual leave.
However, some have pulled a sickie for more trivial reasons, with 9% saying they had a hangover and 12% turning to unnecessary sick leave when they wanted time off but had run out of annual leave.
A quarter (24%) of employees agreed that greater flexibility around working hours would most dissuade them from taking unnecessary sick leave, while 16% pointed towards a better work/life balance or reduced workload.
Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance said: "Employers must ensure that their organisation's culture doesn't lead to employee burnout. A positive approach to using annual leave and a mature dialogue about flexibility in working hours is more likely to ensure employees remain happy and healthy.
"A better employee benefits package will also ensure staff feel valued, as well as providing services such as Employee Assistance Programmes that can help with more serious wellbeing issues."