UK workers put in £23m unpaid overtime: TUC

UK workers' unpaid overtime amounted to £23 million in 2004, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have claimed.

According to the TUC's latest analysis of official statistics, every employee who did unpaid overtime would have earned, on average, £4650 for their work, if they had been paid at their normal rate. If all their unpaid overtime had been worked at the start of the year, the TUC say, they would have worked for free until February 25.

The figures reveal that Londoners work the longest hours in the UK, putting in an extra 7 hours 54 minutes a year – almost a full working day. If they had been paid for this, they would have earned an extra £7000 a year. Employees in Wales worked the second longest working hours, working an extra 7 hours 42 minutes a week (worth £4320), while those in the West Midlands worked an extra 7 hours 36 minutes (worth £4410 – figures based on average hourly pay rates in each region).

TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: "We're not saying that we should turn into a nation of clock-watchers. Most people do not mind putting in some extra time when there's a crisis or an unexpected rush. But too many workplaces have come to depend on very long hours. They get taken for granted and staff have to do even more if there is an unexpected rush."

Mr Barber also criticised workplaces that depend on longer hours, saying they were "inefficient and unproductive".

"People are putting in long hours to make up for poor organisation and planning in the workplace," he said.

"It also puts employer complaints of the costs of benefits such as pensions or time off for new parents into perspective," Mr Barber added. "Employers have been cutting back on pensions even as their staff put in longer hours".

The TUC is now urging employees to recognise February 25 2005 as 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' and suggest that employees should only work their contracted hours, in order to remind their bosses how much they depend on unpaid extra work and loyalty of their staff.

The TUC would like employees to tell them their stories about long hours and unpaid overtime, visit www.worksmartorg.uk/workyourproperhoursday.


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