Little attention has been given to the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on work productivity loss. Individuals with COPD are at risk of reduced working hours, absenteeism, presenteeism and early retirement [1]. Studies have been focused mostly on patients attending outpatient clinics [2], which exclude individuals with undiagnosed COPD, thus limiting the external validity of the findings. There are very few population-based cohort studies [3–6], few reports on presenteeism [5], and a lack of objective measures to define COPD [6]. There would be value in knowing the extent of work productivity loss in individuals with mild COPD, or those who are yet undiagnosed. This could further translate into the allocation of health management programmes in the workplace.