British workers are entitled to rights such as not working more than 48 hours in an average week, having regular breaks at work and between shifts. But British people work some of the longest hours in Europe, with 190,000 Welsh workers putting in a total of 80 million unpaid hours in 2019. This means that the average person doing unpaid overtime has worked this year so far for free.
Trade unions exist to protect workers from exploitation – here are 3 reasons why our campaign is important.
It’s important to know your rights, especially when it comes to working hours, holiday, leave and TOIL (time off in lieu).
Your contract and staff handbook will outline your employer’s policies, but they may not always be in line with the law. Trade unions work to make sure that employers treat their staff in accordance with employment legislation.
Work-life balance is really important to good mental health. The EU’s Working Time Directive bans employees from working more than an average of 48 hours per week. There are exceptions for people who opt-out or work in some excepted industries such as emergency services or tourism.
Many employers expect their workers to always be available (especially online). But we believe workers should be allowed to ‘switch off’, not answering emails or calls outside of work hours.
The TUC is calling for the Directive to be included in any post-Brexit deal to protect employees from working too many hours, or during their free time.
Some workers may need some flexibility in their work hours. Parents and carers may need to look after family members, and people with long commutes could benefit from different hours of work.
All employees have the right to make a flexible working request after 26 weeks employment. But TUC research shows that over half of the UK’s workforce don’t have access to a flexible working scheme.
The TUC is campaigning to make flexible working available to all workers who request it from day one of employment.
If your employer keeps making you work more than 48 hours or is creating a culture where it’s difficult to work your proper hours, the best thing to do is speak to your union representative.
Trade union representatives stand up for their members in the workplace, challenging unfair and discriminatory practices. If you’re not a member, join a union today.