Bosses of Oxfordshire firms need to give workers more time off in the run-up to Christmas or face problems caused by the "sicknote season".

A survey of almost 500 workers showed four out of five had faked a day off, sometimes for legitimate reasons, such as a doctor's appointment.

But the study by fish4jobs showed that some employees called in sick because of a hangover, or to attend an interview for an alternative job.

The report described the coming week as the sicknote season, because it marks the longest stretch of work in the UK without a bank holiday.

False reasons given for not being in work included lying about the death of a close family member or a pet or blaming a domestic DIY disaster.

Joe Slavin, chief executive of fish4jobs, said: "We all know Britons work the longest hours in Europe and it's clear from the survey that workers are resorting to pulling a sickie for all sorts of reasons.

"Employers need to take serious note and look for ways of tackling the sicknote culture."

Mr Slavin added: "Tactics such as allowing a 'duvet day', encouraging a job share scheme or installing more working from home time are all strategies more employers in the UK need to adopt, to help provide employees with a valid reason to take a last-minute day off that is strictly by the book."

The survey also found that one in three people had spotted a colleague enjoying a day out when they had clled the office to say that they were sick.