‘Unpaid overtime impacts on workers’ health and on job creation’

Reducing the huge and rising amount of unpaid overtime done by UK workers could create over a million extra full-time jobs, according to the TUC.

Reducing the huge and rising amount of unpaid overtime done by UK workers could create over a million extra full-time jobs, according to the TUC.

The total amount of unpaid overtime worked last year was 1,968 million hours – worth a record £29.2 billion to the UK economy – and roughly equivalent to a million extra full-time jobs, says the TUC which claims it is partly driven by a culture of "pointless presenteeism".

If workers who regularly put in unpaid overtime worked all their hours from the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday 24 February. The TUC says it has named this Work Your Hour Proper Hours Day (WYPHD) in their honour.

In the run-up to WYPHD 2012 the TUC will publish information and advice for staff and their bosses to try and cut out these unpaid hours at work. The TUC will call on employers to mark Work Yours Proper Hours Day by thanking staff for the extra hours they’re putting in.

The TUC analysis of official figures shows that 5.3 million workers put in an average of 7.2 hours of unpaid overtime per week last year, worth around £5,300 a year per person.

TheTUC admits reducing the amount of unpaid overtime would not translate precisely into extra jobs since it says a lot of these hours are a result of a British work culture of what it calls "pointless presenteeism", but it believes that persistent and excessive hours of unpaid overtime are holding back job creation.

Some employers are forcing staff to work extremely long hours that damage their health, when taking on extra employees would be far more productive and provide much needed jobs, claims the TUC.

Workers in London (26.9 per cent) and the South East (25 per cent) are still the most likely to work unpaid overtime, the analysis shows. Workers in the West Midlands (up 3 per cent) and the North East (up 2.2 per cent) have experienced the sharpest rise in the likelihood of working unpaid overtime over the last year, it adds.

The number of workers doing unpaid overtime has increased by more than a million since records began in 1992, when 4.2 million people regularly did unpaid overtime, to 5.3 million people in 2011. The proportion of workers doing unpaid overtime has also increased slightly, from 19.7 per cent in 1992 to 21.1 per cent in 2011, according to TUC analysis.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘The heroic amount of extra unpaid hours put in by millions of workers make a vital – but often unsung – contribution to the UK economy.

‘While many politicians and financial institutions have spectacularly failed to do their bit to help the UK economy, millions of hard-working staff clearly have and we hope employers congratulate them for their efforts on Work Your Proper Hours Day this year.

‘But while many of the extra unpaid hours worked could easily be reduced by changing work practices and ending the UK’s culture of pointless presenteeism, a small number of employers are exploiting staff by regularly forcing them to do excessive amounts of extra work for no extra pay.

‘This attitude is not only bad for workers’ health, it’s bad for the economy too as it reduces productivity and holds back job creation.

‘No-one wants to see us to become a nation of clock-watchers. But a more sensible and grown-up attitude to working time could cut out needless unpaid hours and help more people into work.’

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