Work intensity is leaving many exhausted – especially women, says TUC

More and more workers say their work is more intensive and they feel exhausted by the end of every day, according to a TUC poll.

a woman sleeps at her computer with post-it notes covering her eyes

 

More than half of UK workers feel work is getting more intense and demanding, with 61% saying they feel exhausted by the end of most working days – more so for women, according to the TUC.

Many feel the situation is getting worse. More than a third of workers (36%) are spending more time outside of contracted hours reading, sending and answering emails. A third are spending more time outside of contracted hours doing core work activities. Forty per cent say they have been required do more work in the same amount of time and around the same number say they are feeling more stressed at work.

The TUC says women face greater work intensity than men and are more likely to say they feel exhausted at the end of most working days (67% to 56%) and that work is getting more intense (58% to 53%). It puts this in part down to the higher representation of women in public services such as health and social care where labour shortages are high and to care responsibilities meaning they have to work more intensively.

The TUC says there are several factors are combining to create a “perfect storm” for work intensity. This includes: unrealistic algorithmically set productivity targets and monitoring which force people to work at high speed; staff shortages; inadequate enforcement of working time regulations; and a decline in collective bargaining.

The TUC says this could get worse as ministers are currently looking to water down rules on how working time is recorded by employers in the UK as part of the Retained EU Law.

It is calling for a new right to disconnect to ensure work does not encroach too much on family life, the strengthening of enforcement of working time regulations, action on the public sector recruitment and retention crisis and a ‘genuine’ day one right to work flexibly unless an employer can properly justify why this is not possible, including a right of appeal and no limits on how many times people can ask to change their work pattern.  It also recommends the promotion of collective bargaining and the introduction of a statutory duty to consult trade unions before an employer introduces the use of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making systems.



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