More than 600 staff were dismissed from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) last year for their poor work attendance according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Official statistics obtained by video conferencing firm, LifeSize, reveal that 672 people were sacked for “unsatisfactory attendance” and 54 were disciplined for “unauthorised absence”.

It also found that the average number of sick days a year at the department was 7.4 per employee with a total of 700,890 work days lost, with stress accounting for one in ten days lost to sickness.

The figures also revealed that the Ministry of Justice took the most days off ill in 2011 at an average of 8.9 per employee, with 21.7% of the 635,554 sick days being attributed to stress.

In addition, 36 staff were disciplined for their absence, with 11 being carpeted for abuse of sick leave procedures and 23 for being absent without leave or late.

Commenting on ways to reduce these numbers, Michael Stephens, UK General Manager at LifeSize, said:

“We know flexible working can produce a far more productive and motivated workforce, as well as having a wider impact on the overall workplace environment. Ahead of the Olympics, Whitehall led the way in trialing such a scheme, offering disgruntled employees with alternative ways to get to work.

“The proliferation of affordable and easy-to-use technologies such as high-speed broadband, HD video communications and cloud computing, means it’s now possible for organisations and departments to offer their staff a flexible working option.”