Employers have to make their workers happiness a higher priority to stop the UK heading the European sick leave table, according to a space management company.

The country’s workforce has more sick days than any other European country, and twice as many as the US, with mental health issues the single most widespread cause of long term absence from the workplace.

“It’s a real economic concern, illustrated recently by health body BUPA, which said that over £29 billion pounds is lost annually to the UK economy, with mental health cited again as the major issue,” said Gerry Brennan, CEO of Cloudbooking.

Consultancy firm PwC calculated in 2013 that the average British worker takes 9.1 sick days off a year, with the rest of Western Europe only at 7.3 days, whilst in the US the figure is nearly half that of the UK at 4.9 days.

“The reports we have read in recent years on mental health fail to take into consideration the workplace’s bearing on many people’s mental status,” added Mr Brennan.

“After all, when you are in a job that you don’t enjoy and feel unsupported and unhappy, the response is to stay away as much as possible,” he said.

He added that in 2014, the University of Warwick produced a report, which clearly shows that happy employees work harder, and are at least 12% more productive.

“Treat employees well, support them and they will naturally perform better, with less time off sick,” he said.

“Allowing a work/life balance for workers means a workforce who are motivated, supportive and genuinely behind what their organisation is trying to achieve,” he added.

“Britain’s level of sick absences is inexcusable - it’s time to create a supportive working environment for employees, which in turn will create a ‘win win’ for the UK economy.”