Workers under 30 are more likely to phone in sick than their older colleagues, with one in five saying that a hangover is a reason to stay at home, a new study reveals.

The younger generation appears to allow itself time off work for stress, tiredness or feeling run down, whereas most over 55s said that these would not be reasons to stay at home.

One in five 18 to 29 year olds admitted they had missed work because they were "too hung-over".

The stark contrast between younger workers, who are happy to call in sick, and those older than them who only take the day off whe they are bedridden, has been explained by the fact that under 30-year olds may lead unhealthier lifestyles.

According to the study, men and women under 30 were more likely to eat junk food, smoke and drink.

Peter Morton, the marketing manager of multivitamin manufacturer Multibionta, which commissioned the survey, said: “Today’s fast paced, work-hard play-hard lifestyle appears to be taking its toll on the younger generation.

“A poor immune system caused by smoking, drinking and a lack of nutritionally beneficial food, lends itself to people being more susceptible to coughs and colds which in turn can lead to sick days.”

A previous study into national sick days revealed that call centre workers and other customer service staff were the profession most likely to call in sick. Train drivers, pilots and air traffic controllers were the least likely to miss work.