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Working Time In The Spotlight As More And More Work For Free

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The TUC released yesterday to coincide with Work Your Proper Hours Day.  The data shows the number of people working 'extreme' unpaid overtime (i.e., ten hours a week or more over regular working hours) increased by 14,000 to nearly 900,000 last year.

Workers in the teaching and legal professions are most likely to do unpaid overtime - one in five clocked up 17 hours unpaid overtime a week.

Five million people across the UK worked an average of 7 hours 12 minutes unpaid overtime a week.

The value of the unpaid working time?  £27.4 billion, or £5,402 per person.

Public sector workers, including those in healthcare, social services, and education, were more likely to work unpaid overtime in 2009 than those in the private sector - a statistic that may surprise some.

The TUC says the increase in unpaid overtime over the past year coincides with a rise in the number of people 'underemployed'.  Apparently 2.8 million people want either more hours in their existing job or full-time work instead of their current part-time job.

Meanwhile, nearly half a million managers say they would happily work fewer hours even if it meant a pay cut.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'One of the features of the recession has been people moving to shorter hours or taking part-time work in order to avoid the dole queue.  This has also led to a fall in the number of people putting in extra hours at work.

'But there has also been a surprise increase in people doing 'extreme' unpaid overtime, with nearly 900,000 workers giving away 18 hours of free work a week last year.  There is no direct link between excess overtime and underemployment but those people who are struggling to find enough or indeed any hours to work must be wondering why some workers are doing so much for free.

'Our analysis also disproves the tired stereotype that public sector workers enjoy a feather-bedded working life.  In fact they are giving away billions of pounds worth of work for free - and more per person than those in the private sector.

'Staff are understandably doing all they can to help their company recover from the recession - and bosses should thank them for going that extra mile.  But working time still needs to be properly managed.  A long hours culture is bad for workers' health and family life - whether the hours are paid or not.'

Unpaid overtime, 2009

Occupation / employment
sector

% working
unpaid
overtime

No. working
'extreme'
unpaid
overtime

% working
'extreme'
unpaid
overtime

Average
'extreme'
hours per
week

Teaching
professionals

53.9%

268,697

21.2%

18.7

Health & social services managers

49.4%

15,151

7.2%

17.2

Legal professionals

49.0%

22,717

18.1%

16.0

Public sector

25.3%

351,071

4.9%

18.0

Private sector

18.3%

544,190

3.1%

17.8


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