Employees value paid long-term sick leave above all other employee benefits related to health.

That is according to a survey by Aon Consulting, which revealed that such benefits appealed to older workers.

Some 80 per cent of those aged over 55 put critical illness insurance as high on their list of priorities.

Those under 35, however, had an interest in subsidised gym membership with 55 per cent citing it as important and 34 per cent suggesting counselling as a valued employee benefit.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Alex Bennett, head of healthcare consulting at Aon, said: "At a time when workers are worried about their financial futures, it is no surprise that rather than concentrate on staying healthy they focus on how they are going to manage in the event that they do become sick."

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service recently warned employees against going into work when they are unwell as it could "make an illness worse and require a longer time off".