Record amount of unpaid overtime recorded last year


More than five million UK employees worked unpaid overtime last year – the highest amount since 2001, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).


TUC research revealed that the total value of unpaid labour in the UK in 2008 was £26.9 billion – equivalent to an average of approximately seven hours per employee.

According to TUC secretary Brendan Barber, while some staff will inevitably be working longer hours to protect themselves against the risk of redundancy, or to help keep their employer in business, employers should be wary of the potentially harmful side–effects of working long hours.

“Long hours are bad for people’s health, and employers should never forget that each extra hour worked makes people less productive once they are over a sensible working week,”

“Employers needed to look at alternative ways to maximise efficiency. The recession should provide a spur to make workplaces more productive, and for managers to get staff to work together, not compete for who can stay the latest.” he added

Recruitment firm Dynamic Transitions’ managing director Judith Germain added:

“Employees should not be made to feel that they need to do overtime due to fear of losing their job, as the knock–on effect of such pressure is an increase in sickness, poor morale, distrust and contempt for the employer.”

“The real impact on the organisation is not likely to be seen until the economy picks up and employees leave in droves, leaving a severe talent shortage,” she added.

However, Confederation of British Industry director of employment policy Katja Hall pointed out that it wasn’t realistic to expect staff to limit their hours in the current climate.

“British employees have never been clock–watchers. Firms appreciate their willingness to pitch in during these difficult times.” she said.

You may be interested in reading our article on working time regulations for information on working hours.

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