TUC highlights extent of unpaid overtime

Over 18% of women do regular unpaid overtime of an average of seven hours a week, according to new analysis from the TUC.

Woman stressed about working overtime and being overworked


UK companies claimed £32.7 billion of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime, according to new TUC analysis of official statistics.

The TUC says more than five million people put in an average of 7.5 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018, which is equivalent on average to having £6,532 taken out of individual pay packets.

Today is the TUC’s 15th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day, marking the fact that the average person doing unpaid overtime has effectively worked the year so far for free.

To mark Work Your Proper Hours Day, the TUC is encouraging workers to take a proper lunch break and leave on time. It says employers should adopt good practice and take steps to manage down unpaid overtime hours and Government should actively enforce statutory paid annual leave, rest breaks and the right not to work more than 48 hours a week on average.

It says that currently the enforcement system doesn’t work. For example, the TUC says local authorities have sole responsibility for enforcing the 48-hour week in shops and offices, but they can do nothing because they have no resources for this role.

It calls on the Government to target low-paid salary work for national minimum wage enforcement and says extra hours should count towards the National Minimum Wage calculation.

The TUC’s research finds men work more unpaid overtime than women, with more than one in six men working unpaid overtime. A similar percentage of women also put in unpaid hours. The average unpaid overtime is seven hours a week, even for those working part time who tend to be women.

The TUC says one in four public sector employees worked unpaid overtime, compared to around one in six employees in the private sector, with teachers and educational professionals working the most unpaid hours on average each week.

Workers in London were more likely to do unpaid overtime, followed by the South East.

Paul Holcroft, Associate Director  of HR experts Croner, said: “An employer whose workforce regularly stays past their normal hours may count themselves lucky that their team has a ‘good work ethic’. But these employers may do well to think again with a renewed focus on what actually is the best way to get the most out of their employees; both employee wellbeing and overall business productivity are likely to benefit.

“Overwork can actually have the opposite effect of that which it is trying to achieve. Tired employees may well make more mistakes which means that a piece of work needs to be done again, or an order is sent out wrong leading to customer complaints. Tasks can start to take longer because an employee finds it difficult to keep concentration and procrastination may start to creep in, slowing productivity again.”

Meanwhile, new data published this week by the Living Wage Foundation shows there are over one million public sector workers who are earning below the real Living Wage.  The real Living Wage rate, which the Foundation says is independently calculated based on the real cost of living, is currently £9 an hour across the UK and £10.55 in London.



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