Issue date
01 Mar 2019
Companies in Wales claimed £937 million of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published today (Friday) by Wales TUC.
  • More than 160,000 workers in Wales worked 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, Wales TUC warns

Companies in Wales claimed £937 million of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published today (Friday) by Wales TUC.

More than 160,000 people put in an average of 7.6 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018. On average, that’s equivalent to having £5,704 taken out of individual pay packets.

Today is Wales 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.

Wales TUC Policy Officer Nisreen Mansour 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.” 

Editors note

Notes to editors:

  • To mark Work Your Proper Hours Day, Wales 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
  • UK 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.
  • UK 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: Wales TUC’s 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: In England and Wales, 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).

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

Wales

164,000

12.9%

7.6

£14.40

18,021

937

£5,704

UK

5,014,000

18.2%

7.5

£16.75

628,395

32,677

£6,532

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

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: Wales 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.


Wales TUC is the voice of Wales at work. With 49 member unions, Wales TUC represents just over 400,000 workers. We campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad.

Contacts:

TUC press office
media@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1248

Niamh Mhaoileoin
nnimhaoileoin@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1288
07771 713574

Emma Bean
ebean@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1257
07725 144 696

Tim Nichols
tnichols@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1388
078 0876 1844

Wales TUC Cymru

wtuc@tuc.org.uk

029 2034 7010