Issue date
01 Mar 2019
• Friday 1 March marks the day the average person has worked for free so far in the year • 450,000 working people in the South West work extra hours unpaid every year.

According to new TUC analysis of official statistics, 450,000 people in the South West put in an average of 7 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018. That’s equivalent to having £5,587 taken out the average worker’s pay packet every year.

Today (Friday) 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.

Overall, companies in the South West claimed more than £2.5 billion of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime.

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley 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 of working people’s generosity and love for their profession.”

“Overworking staff hurts productivity, leaves workers’ stressed and exhausted, and eats into precious 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.” 

"Too many employers are taking advantage of working people’s generosity and love for their profession.”

Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, TUC South West

As part of Work Your Proper Hours Day, the TUC South West is also encouraging workers to take a proper lunch break and leave on time.

Employers should also adopt good practice and take steps to manage down unpaid overtime hours.

TUC analysis also found that the teaching profession has the longest unpaid hours in the country, with chief executives and managers clocking up long unpaid overtime hours. TUC South West spoke to a number of workers who all experienced working extra unpaid hours as part of their job.

Gracie, teacher

“The department I work in is fantastic but understaffed; I am currently doing a two-person role by myself. I really do love my job but never seem to have the time to prep for my lessons, fulfil assessment requests or finish jobs.”

“We’re technically allowed ‘time off in lieu’, but the impact this would have on pupils, it’s impossible to do. I don’t think I’ve ever taken time off in lieu. Since I started the role in 2014, I consistently work more than I’m paid. That’s too many unpaid hours to think about!”

Corinne, teacher

“It’s typical for teachers like me to work double the actual hours we are paid.”

“We often spend our days off, weekends and evenings, going through onerous planning requirements, data gathering, marking pupils’ homework. And that does not include time spent working during the holidays.”

“I can see all around me teachers leaving the profession in droves – we’re overworked and stressed out.”

Matt, Housing officer

“I have dyslexia which affects my ability to process written information. When I have access to assistive technology, I can work as effectively as anyone else. However, despite going through the motions around assessments for reasonable adjustments, my employer took 12 months to put anything in place. To keep on top of my job I was regularly working an extra 10-15 hours each week, unpaid.”

Amy, Programme Support Manager

“If I am on leave, no one does my job. Even when I’m away, my team will regularly phone me because they need me to do something. They also tell me how things fell apart while I was away or out.

“Last year, I carried over 12.5 days annual leave. I’m also have an additional 2 weeks’ worth of overtime hours that I somehow should take back in lieu of pay.”

Even when I am on a training course, I will come in earlier and then will spend my lunch break catching up. I definitely feel the pressure to work excessive hours.”

Torkwase, Blood Hospital

“I regularly work over my contracted hours without pay because the job I do involves saving people’s lives, and if I’m honest, because I love my job. My manager allows me to take the time back ‘in lieu’, but I don't always feel it’s possible to do so.”

 

To keep on top of my job I was regularly working an extra 10-15 hours each week, unpaid.

Matt, local authority housing officer
Editors note

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.

Table 1 – Numbers of workers in unpaid overtime

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

South West

454,000

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Bristol

90800

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Cornwall

45400

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Devon

108,960

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Plymouth

21338

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Bth/Poole

42222

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Dorset

68100

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Glos

81720

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Somerset

86260

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

Wiltshire

63560

19.9%

7.0

£15.28

48,743

2,535

£5,587

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

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.

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.


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