UK unpaid overtime equates to £32bn

UK workers contributed £31.2bn of free labour last year, completing a total of two billion hours unpaid overtime, according to research by the TUC

Its analysis suggests some 5m workers put in an average of 7.4 extra unpaid hours, missing out on an average of £6,265.  The TUC says that for the average worker, that is equivalent to not being paid for any work they have done from the beginning of the year until 22 February.

According to its research, managers and professionals do the most unpaid hours, including a quarter of chief executives (25.5%) and 39.5% of finance institution managers. However, the practice of doing some free hours has spread fairly wide, even creeping into hourly-paid retail work, where shop assistants are often asked to come in before the store open and to stay after it closes.

Public sector employees make up a quarter (25%) of total employees but produce more than a third (39%) of all unpaid overtime.

The TUC says this is partly because professional roles have tended to remain in the public sector (medical staff and teachers for example) while services like cleaning have been outsourced.

Chief executives do the most unpaid overtime, with an average of 14.1 extra hours per week, while finance institution managers work for free for 8.2 hours. However, teachers are a close second in terms of free work, averaging 12.5 unpaid hours a week, and welfare professionals are putting in 8.6 free hours each week.

The proportion working unpaid overtime is highest in London (24.8%) and the south east (23.1%), compared to the national average of 18.4%. People in their 40s were most likely to do unpaid overtime (23.4%).

The TUC’s data was released as part of its Work Your Proper Hours Day campaign, which is encouraging employees to try to take a proper lunch break and leave on time, while managers are asked to should consider how to move away from over-reliance on unpaid overtime.

Workers can check how much more they would get each year if their overtime was paid at their usual rate here.

Report by Pat Sweet

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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