UK's 'unpaid' overtime runs to £23bn

UK employees lose out on around £23 billion each year by not claiming overtime which is rightfully theirs, the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) has claimed.

The TUC has estimated that on average an employee in the UK puts in around £4,500 in unpaid overtime, amounting to around £23bn each year.

Over five million workers work unpaid overtime of seven hours 24 minutes a week, claim the TUC, who say that all the figures in the report launched today were taken from official statistics, and exclude employees who do less than one hour of unpaid overtime a week.

Managers, at 1.5 million, do the most unpaid overtime, but of the workers who do unpaid overtime, professionals put in - nine hours 36 minutes a week - worth £9,000 a year. Nationally more than 150,000 craft workers are putting in an average of six hours extra, worth nearly £3,000 a year, and more than 70,000 plant and machine operatives are doing an additional five hours 36 minutes on average, worth more than £2,000.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, said: "Britons work the longest hours in Europe, and these figures show that much of it is unpaid overtime. We’re not saying we should turn into a nation of clock-watchers, or that no one should put in extra work when there’s an emergency or a rush of orders, but many people are clearly putting in the equivalent of an extra day every week. Our calculator gives everyone the chance to see how they compare with the average.

"There’s much to learn from these figures. Is it any wonder that top jobs are still dominated by men, when managers have to do an extra day’s unpaid work each week? When employers quote dubious figures about the costs of what they call red tape, and everyone else calls basic rights at work, do they remember their staff put in billions of pounds worth unpaid extra work each year? Given that workers in much of the rest of Europe work fewer hours, yet produce and earn more, are there not hard questions to ask about the quality of UK managers?"

The TUC General Secretary called for better rights and enforcement, so that no one can sign away a 48-hour average week. He also urged a "cultural change" towards "better managed workplaces, so that people can get their jobs done in the time available, and are rewarded for working smartly, not for putting in long hours".

As part of the 'It’s about time' campaign against long hours, the TUC has called for an end to the individual opt-out from Europe’s 48 hour average week, and launched an online overtime calculator at www.worksmart.org.uk


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