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Media Professionals Donate £6K In Unpaid Overtime

February 16 2008 - People working in the media sector such as journalists, public relations officers, photographers and broadcasters are giving away an average of £5,884 a year in unpaid overtime, according to a TUC analysis of official statistics.

The TUC says that media workers are 50% more likely to work beyond their contracted hours unpaid than the rest of the working population. Just over 40% work an average of six hours 42 minutes unpaid overtime each week - equivalent to £5,884 a year per person. Throughout the media sector, 49,000 people are working over their hours, free time valued at a total of £288 million a year.

The media sector may be one of the most overworked in the UK, but free overtime is rife throughout the economy, according to the TUC. Accordingly, the TUC has named next Friday (February 22) 'Work Your Proper Hours Day', arguing that, on average, if workers did all their unpaid work at the beginning of the year, February 22 would be the first day that their employers paid for.

Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

"The media industry is notorious for its long hours culture and today's figures show that many employees are not getting paid for putting in all those extra hours. In sectors such as PR, where working time is closely monitored for clients, the same rules don't apply to staff.

"Long hours and unpaid overtime will always be part of the media industry. But on 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' we want bosses to thank staff for all the extra effort they put in. They could even show their appreciation by chipping in for those much needed after work drinks.

"We also want staff to honour the day by taking a proper lunch break and leaving work on time. In the longer term, the media industry should make an effort to curb the worst excesses of unpaid overtime."

The TUC has an interactive quiz at, where people can:

  • find out whether they have a long hours problem
  • rate workplaces on work-life balance, and
  • post a message on the 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' rant blog

Previous Article - TUC attacks long hours culture

June 13 2005 - The TUC's submission to the UK Government's consultation on flexible working says that the country's long hours culture is damaging employees's personal lives and reinforcing the gender pay gap.

In its Fairness and flexibility contribution to the Government's Work and Families: Choice and Flexibility consultation exercise, the TUC argues that the best way to achieve better work/life balance for workers is to give everyone the right to work flexibly. This right is available presently only to parents with children under six or the parents of disabled children under 18. The TUC feels that this right should, at least, now be extended to all carers and parents with children under 18 - and everyone else in the long term.

Criticising UK employers' apparent obsession with the need to work long hours, the TUC submission says that the UK opt-out to the 48-hour working week should be ended and parents given greater choice about how to balance their worlds of work and home.

The TUC also argues for improvements to maternity and paternity leave together with the introduction of paid parental leave:

  • Current legislation entitles parents to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave to be taken in the first five years of their child's life. A mere 4% of parents have used this right since its introduction, mostly because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave - especially because it has to be taken in 1-week blocks. The TUC feels it should be paid with parents able to take a day or half day as the need arises. The TUC also contends that parents should also be able to take parental leave until their children are teenagers.
  • The Government has suggested that in future mothers might be able to transfer some of their maternity leave entitlements to their partners. The TUC argues it would be better to make paternity leave (currently paid at a flat rate of 100) earnings-related allow new fathers to take it at times other than in the two weeks immediately after the birth.
  • British mothers continue to get less money than most new mothers across Europe. Many women have to return to work sooner than they would like because they cannot afford to stay off for longer. The TUC argues for an increase in maternity pay to 100% of earnings in the first six weeks (it is currently 90%) to help boost household income and give mothers a greater degree of choice about returning to work.
  • More needs to be invested in childcare. There is still only one childcare place for every five children under the age of eight. This reduces parents' flexibility and forces many couples into what the TUC describes as a 'shift-parenting' system where one stays at home while the other parent works, and vice versa. The TUC contends that is not good for parents or children.
  • 80% of parents who ask employers for a change in the way they work are allowed to do so but many experience increased workloads or demotion as a consequence. The TUC argues that the law needs to be strengthened so that employers who turn down flexible working requests can only do so if there is a genuine reason, and then must put their case in writing.

According to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber: 'The business benefits of flexible working are there for all to see. Apart from the obvious impact on the individual parent, who feels less stressed and more in control of their lives, more motivated employees are also more productive ones. Increasingly people are balancing the demands of caring not only for children but also dependent adults, and these workers need support and protection.

'But long hours working is the biggest demon facing UK workers. Many fathers find themselves spending extra hours at work when they would really rather be at home, which in turn forces their partners to reduce their hours and pay to run the home and look after children. A better work/life balance where men and women could spend more time with their families and be less stressed at work would be in everyone?s interest.'


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