UK workers do £31.5 billion of unpaid overtime a year says TUC

By agency reporter
February 29, 2016

UK workers gave their employers £31.5 billion of unpaid overtime last year, according to a new analysis of official statistics published by the  Trades Union Congress (TUC) on 26 February

More than five million people put in an average of 7.7 hours extra work a week in unpaid overtime in 2015. This would add up to £6,114 a year each if they were paid the average wage for those hours.

The TUC’s 12th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day is the day when the average person who does unpaid overtime would start getting paid if they worked all their unpaid hours from the beginning of the year.

To mark the day, the TUC is asking workers to take a proper lunch break and leave on time. Managers could lead by example and also think about how they can move away from over-reliance on their staff’s unpaid overtime.

The TUC study reveals that men work 1.1 billion unpaid overtime hours a year, compared to 0.9 billion hours for women. Around one in five (19.2 per cent) men work unpaid overtime, averaging 8.5 hours per week. A similar percentage of women (19.5 per cent) also put in unpaid hours. Despite the fact that many women work part-time the average for those undertaking unpaid overtime is still 7.1 hours a week.

People aged 40 to 44 are most likely to do unpaid overtime, with more than one in four (26.9 per cent) in this age group putting in unpaid hours compared to an average of one in five (19.4 per cent) for all UK workers.

Public sector workers contributed £10.8 billion of unpaid overtime last year. Public sector employees make up a quarter (25.7 per cent) of total employees but produce a third (33.6 per cent) of all unpaid overtime.

The most unpaid overtime is done by teachers and education professionals (with more than half of them working an average of 11.9 hours unpaid every week), followed by financial institution managers  (11.2 hours), production managers (10.3 hours), functional managers such as financial, marketing, personnel managers (10.1 hours), and managers in health and care services (9.9 hours).

Unpaid overtime workers in London and the West Midlands put in the most free hours, clocking up 8.2 hours a week (compared to the national average of 7.7 hours). They are followed by staff in the North West and Wales who put in 7.9 hours unpaid overtime a week, and those in the East Midlands who spend 7.8 hours a week working for free.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Too many workplaces tolerate a long-hours culture. That is why we are calling on employees to take a stand today on Work Your Proper Hours Day and take a full lunch break and go home on time.

“We do not want to turn Britain into a nation of clock watchers. Few people mind putting in extra effort from time to time when it is needed, but it is too easy for extra time to be taken for granted and expected day in day out.

“I would urge anyone worried about a long-hours culture in their workplace to join their union, to make sure they are represented and their voices are heard.”

* The TUC has designed a calculator where employees can enter their actual hours each week alongside the hours they are contracted to do, plus their annual salary, to find out when their unpaid overtime comes to an end and when they start being paid for the job they are contracted to do.

*  More about Work Your Proper Hours Day here



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