Employees in the UK worked £23bn worth of unpaid overtime in 2006, averaging an extra seven hours and six minutes a week of work, an analysis of official statistics by the TUC has found.
The union group claims workers would take home an extra £4,800 a year if they were paid the average wage for those hours.
However, there was a drop of 18 minutes in the average amount of extra unpaid work – from seven hours 24 minutes in 2005.
The TUC has calculated that if everyone in the UK who works unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would be paid for would be Friday 23 February.
The TUC has declared that date Work Your Proper Hours Day and is calling on employees to use it to remind bosses of their extra unpaid work by taking a proper lunch break and going home on time for this one day a year.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “We still work the longest hours in Europe and too many workplaces are gripped by a long-hours culture.
“There are some small signs that the UK is getting a bit better, but there is still a long way to go. That is why we say that employees should take a stand on Work Your Proper Hours Day and for just one day a year take a full lunch break and go home on time.”
Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR policy, said: “What the TUC has not pointed out is that the percentage of people working more than an extra hour a week last year fell to its lowest level for more than 15 years, and the total number doing so is 4.78 million, down 440,000 since 2003. Its Work Your Proper Hours Day is earlier in the calendar this year as a result.”