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Employees did £33.6bn worth of free work in 2016, says TUC

24 Feb 2017 By Georgi Gyton

More than five million employees did unpaid overtime last year; teaching and educational professionals clocked up the most hours


Employers benefited from £33.6bn worth of unpaid overtime last year, according to statistics published by the TUC.

More than 5.3 million people put in an average of 7.7 hours per week in unpaid overtime, which equates to an average of £6,301 in earnings.

The data, which is published on the TUC’s annual ‘work your proper hours day’, suggests the average person doing unpaid overtime will have worked for free so far in 2017.

Teaching and educational professionals clocked up the most unpaid hours last year – 729,652 – which averaged out at 12.1 extra hours per week. ‘Functional managers’, such as finance managers and marketing and sales directors, came in second highest with 393,198 working free overtime. On an individual basis, chief executives did the most unpaid hours on average, at 13.2 hours per week.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the situation was “untenable… Long and unmanageable working hours are the biggest single reason cited by teachers for leaving the profession.”

Employees in London do the most unpaid work, found the TUC, with 980,460 people doing overtime for free, closely followed by 893,099 employees in the south east. The regions with the lowest numbers doing unpaid overtime were Northern Ireland (79,134) and the north east (151,311).

With the average salary in London the highest of all the regions in the UK – at £20.88 per hour – workers in the capital lost out with the highest value of unpaid work at £8,903 per employee year. The value of unpaid overtime was the lowest in Northern Ireland, at £5,574.

The findings also highlighted the fact that more than 1.6 million workers in the UK are working for longer than the 48-hour limit of the EU Working Time Directive.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said the best bosses understand that a long-hours culture doesn’t always achieve the best results.

“Few of us mind putting in some extra time when it’s needed,” she said. “But if it happens all the time and gets taken for granted, that’s a problem. So make a stand today – take your full lunch break and go home on time.”
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