SUNDERLAND Council workers took an average of 8.8 sick days last year.
Figures reveal that 26.7 per cent of sick days taken by city council employees were due to stress.
Union leaders said the high level of sickness was down to rising workloads, financial strains and the looming threat of job cuts.
But civic leaders hit back, claiming they had “robust policies” in place to manage levels of sickness.
Clare Williams, Unison regional convenor, said: “Public services are facing unprecedented reductions in funding driven by the Coalition Government.
“Local authorities in the region have been working on how to deliver quality public services with reduced expenditure, and working with their workforces on looking at efficiencies for several years.
“As a result of job losses and the non-filling of vacant posts, many staff are left having to ensure that the same level of service is delivered by fewer of them.
“So, in this context, it is no surprise that sickness absence is as high as it is.”
Last week, the city council said it needs to save £58 million, but it has pledged not to make redundancies.
A council spokesman said: “Sunderland City Council is committed to improving the overall health of our communities and the well-being of our employees.
“As many of our employees live in Sunderland, doing all we can to have a healthy workforce will not only improve attendance but will also contribute to a healthy city.
“The council has a robust set of policies to actively manage attendance and levels of sickness absence have consistently reduced over time.”
The average number of sick days taken across the UK last year was 6.4.