Five million British workers have taken a day of work because of stress, reveals research timed to co-incide with National Stress Awareness Day.

Stress caused almost five million people to call in sick and take a day off work over the past year – ringing up a £460m bill in wasted wages per day for employers.

Younger workers were more likely to succumb – with almost a quarter (24pc) of staff aged 18 to 24 years citing stress as the reason for retreating back under the duvet in the morning.

The data was revealed in a study for Friends Life and has been released to co-incide with National Stress Awareness Day, set for November 6 this year.

The event – which is now in its 15th year – aims to raise awareness of the condition which is known to contribute to the more serious physical illnesses, as well as being a cause for obesity.

People going to work whilst suffering stress contribute to poor performance of businesses and services, and can be a contributor to poor care, errors, and disasters caused by lack of concentration. The International Stress Management Association estimates that the financial cost to the UK of stress is about £60bn or almost £1,000 per man, woman and child.

The Friends Life research found major causes of stress in the younger generation are fear of redundancy, which was cited by 36pc – a higher percentage than those who fret over sustaining a life-changing injury. Worries around job security are a concern for this age group, at 52pc.

Other concerns among 18-24 year olds are money (35pc) and work (22pc). When compared to last year, money concerns have gone down by 2pc in this age group and about work by 1pc.

The figures also exposed a gender gap in the drivers for stress, with 31pc of males saying work causes them the most stress, followed by money, at 28pc. The pattern was the opposite for women; more stated that money was the main cause of their stress (34%) than work (23%).

David Williams, director of group protection at Friends Life, said: “Despite green shoots of recovery in the economy, it’s clear from our research that many workers continue to live under a serious burden of stress, particularly those under the age of 25. UK economic output is improving but this is not having as positive an effect on UK workers’ stress levels as we would have hoped.”

“Employers can provide valuable services for their employees that can help prevent and manage stress. It is important that employers spot the signs of stress early to ensure that action can be taken to help employees feeling pressurised. This can positively affect employee wellbeing, engagement as well as business productivity.”

By Alan Tovey, as published in The Telegraph, 6th November 2013

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