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Business & Economy

Workers in the UK putting in £billions worth of unpaid overtime says TUC

UK companies claimed £32.7 billion of free labour last year because of workers’ doing unpaid overtime, according to analysis of official statistics published last week (March 1) 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 £6532 taken out of individual pay packets.

In the North East, the figures are equally significant with 14 per cent of the region’s workforce putting in an average of 7.3 hours of unpaid overtime every week. That’s the equivalent of about 147,000 workers.

Teachers and educational professionals were the most likely to work unpaid overtime by occupation, with chief executives and legal professionals following closely behind.

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.”

North East Times reached out to Jonathan Boys, labour market economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to get the HR specialist’s view on the issue.

He said: “The CIPD believes that employers should protect their employees from overwork. If employees are working consistently long hours and this is having a negative impact on their performance or well-being, employers should take steps to establish why it’s happening and consider what might be done to address the issue.

“We believe that the best way to tackle a long-hours culture is to offer more flexible working patterns, and for managers to lead by example, for example by not working very long hours themselves and by not encouraging email contact out-of-hours.”

On the need to balance business needs with the well-being of workers, he added: “Meeting the business need for flexibility could be a false economy for employers if it comes at the expense of well-being. Workers are more likely to put in discretionary effort, and work more productively when they are engaged and this is most likely when they perceive that the employment relationship is fair.”