Workers did 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime last year

Teachers and education professionals work the most unpaid hours per week, the TUC found
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Employees in the UK did more than £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year, according to analysis by the TUC.

The trade union body scoured official statistics and found that more than 5 million workers did around 2 billion unpaid hours of work during 2018. This would mean that the average person doing unpaid overtime has worked the year so far for free – leading to today being marked as TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day.

Teachers and educational professionals work the most unpaid hours on average each week, at 12.1 hours. Chief executives worked 11.4 extra hours per week, followed by legal professionals at 10.2 hours more.

Managers often worked more hours than they were contracted for, according to the TUC. Managers in hospitality and catering did the most unpaid overtime, at 9.7 hours per week, while managers in retail, leisure, finance and production put in 8.9 hours without pay. Managers in organisations’ finance, marketing and HR functions did an extra 9.2 hours.

Men worked just over a billion unpaid overtime hours in 2018, the TUC found, compared to 0.9 billion for women. About 18% of both men and women worked unpaid overtime, including those who work part time.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “it’s not okay” for managers to expect employees to work extra hours for free. The TUC has called for new rights that ensure employers who break working time rules are held to account at tribunal.

“Lots of us are willing to put in a few extra hours when it’s needed, but too many employers are taking advantage,” she said.

“Overworking staff hurts productivity, leaves workers stressed and exhausted and eats into time that should be spent with family and friends. Bosses who do steal people’s time should face consequences.”

Unpaid overtime was more prevalent in the public sector than the private sector, with one in four public sector workers putting in extra unpaid work, compared to one in six for the private sector. The TUC found that public sector workers produce more than a third of unpaid overtime (35.3%).

Almost one in four workers in London did unpaid overtime, compared to a national average of 18% – employees in the capital worked 385 million free hours last year, according to the TUC. While there were fewer workers doing unpaid overtime in the north west (460,000), they did the most unpaid hours per person, at eight per week.

One Response to Workers did 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime last year

  1. Avatar
    Paul Sellers 1 Mar 2019 at 11:59 am #

    Its clear that long hours are bad for productivity. As the work-study literature demonstrated, the marginal value of each extra hour declines quite rapidly until it reaches a point where productivity begins to fall on a per-worker basis. This chimes with common sense – tired workers go slower and make more mistakes.

    The UK currently has a record vacancy-to-unemployment ratio and more employers are reporting skills shortages. It would thus be foolish indeed to consider more unpaid hours as a sticking plaster for this ailment.

    Clearly what is needed is more investment in both technology and employees. In the current labour market, workers who feel too squeezed by their employer’s demands may decide simply to exit.

    Part of the way forward is managing out excessive hours. That is something where personnel professionals and trade union officers can make common cause.

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