The manufacturers' organisation's 2018 report, published this week, shows employees took an average five days off sick last year, compared with 5.2 in 2016 and 5.3 in 2015.
The latest benchmark report covers the calendar year 2017 and the statistics are based on responses from 203 manufacturers employing more than 33,000 staff.
The overall absence rate for the sector was 2.2% of total working time, which is a slight improvement on 2.3% in 2016 and 2.4% in 2015.
Manual workers took an average of 6.1 days sick leave, unchanged from 2016. However, workers in white-collar jobs had an average of three days off work in the latest survey, a slight improvement on 3.1 days in 2016.
The rubber, plastics and chemicals sector had the highest average number of days absent at 5.5 days. The metals sector had the lowest, with 4.7 days per employee.
EEF's annual report shows that the largest companies had the highest absence rates. A sample of companies that employ more than 500 workers reveals that the absence rate was 3.2%. In last year's report, businesses with a workforce of 51 to 100 reported a 2.2% absence rate.
The latest report is the first year that only manufacturing members of the EEF have been sampled. In previous years, the EEF has included data from member businesses that work in the non-manufacturing sector, including renting and leasing of machinery and engineering related consulting.
Terry Woolmer, head of health and safety policy at the EEF, said: "While staff missing work for sickness is inevitable, gathering as much information as possible and comparing company data to wider trends across the sector is essential for tackling absence issue before they grow into a larger concern."
The sectors covered are rubber, plastics and chemicals; metals; machinery; electrical and precision products/equipment; motor vehicles, other transport and equipment; and other manufacturing.