Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

February 24, 2017

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Today is “Work Your Proper Hours Day”, will you?


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.

To mark the day, the TUC is asking workers to take a proper lunch break and leave on time

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.

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 annual 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 union says.

The TUC has designed a calculator at http://act.goingtowork.org.uk/page/content/unpaid-overtime 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 workers’ union is also 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, it says, adding that 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”.

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). As an occupational sector, more unpaid hours are worked in total by teachers and education professionals (729,652) than any other.
  • 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 worker 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.


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.”

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7 years ago

You can check how much you’re losing out yourself with this quick calculator – You might get a shock as all the shorter lunches, late finishes and weekends spent checking email add up pretty quickly https://www.tuc.org.uk/unpaidovertime

Bill Robb
Bill Robb
7 years ago

I love my job and want to work a part of my lunch hour and I also stay late on some days and go home early on others. Like most unions the TUC seems to be striving to drive a wedge between managers/owners and employees. Okay, if people come in late or leave early, I will penalise them. If my employees need time off for a family issue or take their dog to the vet, I will dock that time taken off their wages..When it comes to sick leave… there will be no flexibility. I will stick to the letter… Read more »

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
7 years ago

Too late Ethel, it’s out there, in the public domain, no longer a secret hidden from view in plain sight the difference between ‘living to work’ and ‘working to live’, “I love my job”, the Holy Grail in the world of work, feeling like, you know, a sense of belonging, having some genuine meaning and purpose, ownership of what you do and that what you do, whether a cog in a big machine or you actually get to witness the positive outcomes to being engaged in the business and your activity makes a difference. The human being is the most… Read more »