Workplace illness could be costing the economy as much as $13 billion a year, says a Treasury report.
The report says absenteeism accounts for just 3% of the indirect costs of ill-health, while people who are at work but do not perform efficiently contribute 55% of the losses.
The Council of Trade Unions says the report shows the folly of the Government's move to allow employers to demand workers produce a medical certificate for taking a day off.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association says the report does not support that argument. It says good employers and employees generally work out a fair system of give and take over time off for illness.