March 1, 2019
Today is the TUC’s 15th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day, marking the fact that, according to the union, the average person doing unpaid overtime has effectively worked the year so far for free. A new analysis of official statistics published today by the TUC argues that UK companies claimed £32.7 billion of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime with more than 5 million people putting in an average of 7.5 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s not okay for bosses to steal their workers’ time. Lots of us are willing to put in a few extra hours when it’s needed, but too many employers are taking advantage. Overworking staff hurts productivity, leaves workers stressed and exhausted and eats into time that should be spent with family and friends. Bosses who do steal people’s time should face consequences. So we’re calling for new rights to ensure that employers who break the rules on working time can be brought to employment tribunals.”
The TUC study found that men work just over a billion unpaid overtime hours a year, (1,048 million hours) compared to 0.9 billion hours for women (908 million hours). More than 1 in 6 (18.0 percent) men work unpaid overtime, averaging 8.0 hours per week. A similar percentage of women (18.4 percent) also put in unpaid hours. Even though many women work part-time the average for those undertaking unpaid overtime is 7.0 hours a week.
One in 4 public sector employees (25.3 percent) worked unpaid overtime, compared to around one in 6 employees in the private sector (15.8 percent) Public sector workers contributed £12.0 billion of unpaid overtime last year. Public sector employees make up just a quarter (25.2 percent) of total employees but produce more than a third (35.3 percent) of all unpaid overtime.
London relies most on free work, with almost 1 in 4 workers (24.4 percent) doing unpaid overtime, (compared to the national average of fewer than one in five (18.2 percent). Employees in London worked more than a third of a billion free hours (385 million) last year.
The South East is next, with 20.3 percent working unpaid overtime, while 19.9 percent in the South West and 18.6 percent in the Eastern Region are working free hours. However, the 460,000 unpaid overtime workers in the North West have edged ahead when it comes to most unpaid hours each (8.0 hours per week, compared to the national average of 7.5 hours). London is close behind, with unpaid overtime workers averaging 7.8 free hours per week, while unpaid overtime workers in Wales and the West Midlands both average 7.6 free hours a week.
To mark today’s Work Your Proper Hours Day, the TUC is encouraging workers to take a proper lunch break and leave on time. Employers should adopt good practice and take steps to manage down unpaid overtime hours.