Issue date
24 Feb 2017

24 February 2017

- UK workers put in a total of 2.1 billion unpaid hours in 2016
- Londoners do the most unpaid overtime
- Working time protections are at risk from Brexit, says TUC

UK workers gave their employers £33.6 billion of free labour last year by doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published today (Friday) by the TUC.

Today is the TUC’s 13th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day. Prior to this day, the average person doing unpaid overtime has effectively worked the year so far for free.

More than 5.3 million people put in an average of 7.7 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2016. This is equivalent to an average of £6,301 they have each missed out in their pay packets.

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

The TUC has designed a calculator at www.tuc.org.uk/unpaidovertime for workers to find out how much more they would get paid each year if their unpaid overtime was paid at their usual rate.

The TUC is warning that working time protections could be weakened after Brexit. Although the government plans to transfer EU working time rights into UK law, they will be more vulnerable to erosion and repeal by future governments. And it could lead to a weaker interpretation of the rights in UK courts than has been established in case law by the European Court of Justice.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Few of us mind putting in some extra time when it’s needed. 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.

“The best bosses understand that a long-hours culture doesn’t get good results. So we’re asking managers to set an example by leaving on time too.

“Anyone worried about the long-hours culture in their workplace should get together with workmates and join a union. That way you can get your voices heard and get the support you need to make sure your boss doesn’t break the rules.

“The government still doesn’t have a water-tight plan to stop working time protections getting weaker when we leave the EU. The Prime Minister should promise to put a guarantee into our future trade deals with Europe that British workers will have a level playing field with EU workers.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Table 1 – Unpaid overtime by region and value

Nation/

region

Number working unpaid overtime

Proportion working unpaid overtime

Average weekly hours of unpaid overtime

Average gross hourly pay

Total value per week (£000s)

Total value per year (£m)

Annual value per worker

North East

151,311

14.1%

6.6

£14.04

14,021

729

£4,818

North West

538,521

18.4%

7.3

£14.54

57,159

2,972

£5,519

Yorkshire and Humberside

372,238

17.1%

7.7

£14.02

40,184

2,090

£5,614

East Midlands

362,395

18.1%

7.6

£13.88

38,228

1,988

£5,485

West Midlands

378,698

16.2%

7.7

£14.50

42,228

2,199

£5,806

Eastern

527,626

20.7%

7.4

£15.04

58,723

3,054

£5,787

London

980,460

26.8%

8.2

£20.88

167,870

8,729

£8,903

South East

893,099

23.8%

7.7

£16.43

112,987

5,875

£6,579

South West

479,749

21.7%

7.4

£14.51

51,513

2,679

£5,583

Wales

177,922

14.4%

7.3

£13.99

18,170

945

£5,311

Scotland

386,940

16.8%

7.5

£15.26

44,285

2,303

£5,951

Northern Ireland

79,134

11.2%

7.7

£13.92

8,481

441

£5,574

UK

5,328,093

19.8%

7.7

£15.76

646,574

33,622

£6,310

Table 2 – unpaid overtime contributing to working 48 hours+ per week

Nation/region

Working 48+ per week (thousands)

% working more than 48 hours per week

Average unpaid hours per week for those working 48+ per week

North East

102

9.5

6.5

North West

327

11.2

8.9

Yorks and Humber

268

12.3

8.3

East Midlands

255

12.8

9.3

West Midlands

296

12.7

8.4

Eastern

339

13.3

8.6

London

595

16.3

11.9

South East

540

14.4

10.3

South West

266

12.0

9.1

Wales

133

10.8

7.0

Scotland

248

10.7

8.3

Northern Ireland

54

 7.6

7.6

UK

3,422

12.8

9.4

Table 3 – unpaid overtime for occupations with longest average unpaid hours

Occupation

Number employees working unpaid overtime

Per cent working unpaid overtime

Average unpaid hours

Chief Executives

33,052

37.9%

13.2

Teaching and educational professionals

729,652

51.8%

12.1

Finance institution managers

45,190

57.7%

11.3

Production managers

149,575

37.2%

10.3

Functional managers*

393,198

45.1%

10.0

Health and care service managers

29,586

38.7%

10.0

Managers in other services**

89,002

32.7%

9.2

Legal professionals

72,077

48.0%

9.1

Senior Officers in protective services

13,831

28.6%

8.8

Transport and logistics managers

64,453

39.3%

8.6

Source: the TUC’s analysis used unpublished ONS data from the Labour Force Survey (July-September 2016) and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2016)

*Functional managers: financial managers, marketing and sales directors, purchasing managers, advertising and public relations directors, human resource managers, IT managers.

Key findings

  • Gender: The TUC study reveals that men work 1.2 billion unpaid overtime hours a year, compared to 1.0 billion hours for women. Around one in five (19.9%) men work unpaid overtime, averaging 8.3 hours per week. A similar percentage of women (19.7%) also put in unpaid hours. Despite the fact that many women work part-time the average for those undertaking unpaid overtime is still 7.1 hours a week.
  • Age: People in their forties are most likely to do unpaid overtime, with more than one in four (26.2%) in this age group putting in unpaid hours compared to an average of one in five (19.8%) for all UK workers.
  • Public sector: Public sector workers contributed £12.2 billion of unpaid overtime last year. Public sector employees make up a quarter (25.7%) of total employees but produce a third (36.3%) of all unpaid overtime.
  • Occupations: Looked at on an individual basis, chief executives work the most unpaid hours on average each week (13.1 hours). They are closely followed by teachers and education professionals (12.1 hours per week), followed by financial institution managers (11.3 hours), production managers (10.3 hours), functional managers such as financial, marketing, and personnel managers (10.0 hours) and health and care service managers (10.0 Hours).
  • Region Unpaid overtime workers in London put in the most unpaid hours, clocking up 8.2 hours a week (compared to the national average of 7.7 hours).  More than 1 in 4 workers in London (26.8%) are doing unpaid overtime (compared to the national average of one in five (19.8%).  The South East follows close behind, with 23.8% working unpaid overtime, whilst 21.7% in the South West and 20.7% in the Eastern Region are working free hours.
  • Unpaid hours for those working above the 48-hour weekly limit: More than 1.6 million UK employees are currently working over the 48-hour limit of the EU Working Time Directive due to unpaid overtime. Of these, 35% are women (0.5m). In occupations where 48+ hour weeks are most common, the average workers does 13.8 hours of unpaid work per week. London is the long hours capital, with 590,000 employees working 48+ hours per week and averaging 11.9 unpaid hours, followed by the South East with 540,000 employees working 48+ hours and averaging 10.3 unpaid hours a week.

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