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  • More than 5 million UK workers put in a total of 2 billion unpaid hours in 2018
  • The average person doing unpaid overtime has worked the year so far for free
  • Employers must not steal their workers’ time, TUC warns

UK companies claimed £32.7 billion of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published today (Friday) by the TUC.

More than 5 million people put in an average of 7.5 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018. On average, that’s equivalent to having £6,532 taken out of individual pay packets.

Today is the TUC’s 15th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day, marking the fact that the average person doing unpaid overtime has effectively worked the year so far for free.

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.”  

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • To mark 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
  • Government should actively enforce statutory paid annual leave, rest breaks and the right not to work more than 48 hours a week on average. These rights should be enforceable both by complaint to a government enforcement agency and by taking a case to Employment Tribunal. This dual-channel system is already used to enforce the national minimum wage (NMW), which is a flagship policy. At the moment the system doesn’t work. For example, local authorities have sole responsibility for enforcing the 48 hour week in shops and offices, but they can do nothing because they have no resources for this role.
  • Government should target low-paid salary work for national minimum wage enforcement. Where employers require salaried staff to work extra hours, this time counts towards the NMW calculation.

Key findings

  • Gender: The TUC study reveals 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%) men work unpaid overtime, averaging 8.0 hours per week. A similar percentage of women (18.4%) 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.
  • Public sector: 1 in 4 public sector employees (25.3%) worked unpaid overtime, compared to around 1 in 6 employees in the private sector (15.8%) Public sector workers contributed £12.0 billion of unpaid overtime last year. Public sector employees make up just a quarter (25.2%) of total employees but produce more than a third (35.3%) of all unpaid overtime.
  • Occupations: teachers and educational professionals work the most unpaid hours on average each week (12.1 hours). Chief executives are close behind (11.4 hours per week), followed by legal professionals (10.2 hours), hospitality and catering managers (9.7 hours), functional managers such as financial, marketing, and personnel managers (9.2 hours) and retail, leisure financial institution and production managers (all 8.9 Hours).
  • Region London relies most on free work, with almost 1 in 4 workers (24.4%) doing unpaid overtime, (compared to the national average of fewer than one in five (18.2%).  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% working unpaid overtime, while 19.9% in the South West and 18.6% 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.

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

147,000

14.0%

7.3

£14.83

15,971

830

£5,665

North West

460,000

15.3%

8.0

£15.37

56,530

2,940

£6,387

Yorks and Humber

402,000

18.0%

7.3

£14.92

44,006

2,288

£5,692

East Midlands

343,000

17.5%

7.5

£14.69

36,660

1,906

£5,557

West Midlands

418,000

17.6%

7.6

£15.50

49,142

2,555

£6,112

Eastern

483,000

18.6%

7.3

£16.00

56,604

2,943

£6,097

London

949,000

24.4%

7.8

£22.49

165,585

8,611

£9,077

South East

785,000

20.5%

7.3

£17.11

97,752

5,083

£6,497

South West

454,000

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Wales

164,000

12.9%

7.6

£14.40

18,021

937

£5,704

Scotland

345,000

14.8%

7.7

£16.17

42,932

2,232

£6,464

Northern Ireland

65,000

9.2%

6.7

£14.55

6,333

329

£5,090

UK

5,014,000

18.2%

7.5

£16.75

628,395

32,677

£6,532

Table 2 – unpaid overtime for occupations with longest average unpaid hours

Occupation

Number employees working unpaid overtime

Per cent working unpaid overtime

Average unpaid hours

Teaching and educational professionals

735,000

52.5%

12.1

 Chief Executive

41,000

39.5%

11.4%

Legal professionals

69,000

42.5%

10.2

Hospitality and catering managers

40,000

17.6%

9.7

Functional managers*

374,000

40.4%

9.2

 Production managers

133,000

32.1%

8.9

Managers in retail and leisure

88,000

32.7%

8.9

Finance institution managers

35,000

42.3%

8.9

Senior officers in the protective services

15,000

28.4%

8.7

 Welfare professionals

50,000

31.3%

8.5

Source: the TUC’s analysis used unpublished ONS data from the Labour Force Survey (July-September 2018) and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2018)

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

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.