TUC calls on workers to take a lunch break on Work Your Proper Hours Day

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, UK unions,

Work Your Proper Hours DayUK workers gave their bosses nearly £32bn worth of unpaid overtime last year – an average of £6,050 each if these hours had been paid – according to new analysis published today by the TUC for Work Your Proper Hours Day.

The TUC analysis also finds that one in five (20.3 per cent) of the workforce regularly work extra hours for no pay.

The TUC’s 11th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day marks the point this year when the average person who does unpaid overtime would start getting paid if they worked all their unpaid hours first at the start of the year.

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

The study of official figures from 2014 show that unpaid overtime was down only slightly from the previous year, by 0.9 per cent. The TUC believes this is partly due to employment growth taking some of the pressure off hard-pressed staff in some workplaces.

But with an army of more than five million people still working an average of 7.7 unpaid hours a week there is still a lot to do to get unpaid hours down to reasonable levels.

The TUC study also reveals that men make up 51.1 per cent of those working unpaid overtime and work a total of 1.2 billion unpaid overtime hours a year, compared to 0.9 billion for women. The TUC believes this difference results from the disproportionate number of managers who are men (66.4 per cent). Employer expectation that managers will do more unpaid overtime may contribute to excluding women from managerial jobs.

Unpaid overtime is more common in the public sector (27.4 per cent of employees) than the private sector (18.5 per cent). The public sector is benefiting from 11.6 billion pounds worth of free hours a year.

Education benefits from the most free work, with more than 1 million people doing unpaid overtime, followed by health and social work (770,000), the scientific and technical sector (500,000), manufacturing (490,000) and wholesale and retail (418,000).

The most free hours per overtime worker are in the education sector (9.7 per week), followed by the hospitality industry (9.3), mining and quarrying (9.2), the finance industry (8.7) and scientific and technical (8.4).

People in their 40s are most likely to do unpaid overtime, with 26 per cent in this age group putting in unpaid hours, compared to 20.3 per cent for all UK workers.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Staff across Britain are continuing to work among the longest hours in Europe and are not even paid for much of the extra time they put in.

“Millions of workers go the extra mile every week, boosting the profits of companies across the country while they lose out on thousands of pounds from their pay packets. And this is on top of the fact that one in five jobs already pays under the living wage.

“Bosses who encourage long hours in the office should re-think their approach as stressed, over-worked staff are often unhappy and less productive.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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