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TUC says 5,000,000 work a day a week unpaid

January 5 2006 - More accurately, 4,759,000 employees worked an average of 7 hours 24 minutes a week in unpaid overtime in 2005, according to a TUC analysis of the official Labour Force Survey figures.

The TUC research shows that employers are beginning to tackle the UK's long hours culture. There has been a small reduction in the percentage of people working at least an extra hour a week unpaid. It is now at its lowest level since 1992 (19.4%). 600,000 more people are working unpaid overtime than in 1992 but this is a half million fall from the first 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' in 2003, when 5,217,000 worked extra hours for free.

Employees in small workplaces (less than 25 employees) were the least likely to work unpaid overtime - 14.6% of staff compared to nearly a quarter in workplaces with over 500 employees. Staff in small businesses also work the least amount of unpaid overtime (averaging 6 hours 54 minutes).

The analysis also shows some regional variations in unpaid overtime. Londoners put in the longest hours, averaging an extra 8 hours 12 minutes in a week. Welsh employees follow, working an extra 7 hours 48 minutes and those in Northern Ireland were just behind on 7 hours 36 minutes. The South-West (6.9 hours) and Scotland (6.8 hours) averaged the least extra time.

According to TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber: 'Millions are still putting in up to an extra day a week for free, but there are now some welcome signs that some employers are beginning to realise that endless hours of unpaid overtime are often a sign of an inefficient workplace and not something to celebrate.

'We don't want to turn into a nation of clock watchers. Most people enjoy their jobs, and don't mind putting in extra effort when there's a rush or an emergency, but that easily turns into the long hours culture of extra hours every week.

'But in smart workplaces, people work fewer hours. The run up to 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' is a great opportunity for bosses to show staff that they want to start tackling their long hours culture. And on the day itself managers can say thanks for their staff's hard work by taking them out for a coffee or a cocktail.'

If every employee worked all their unpaid overtime at the beginning of the year, the TUC estimates that they would have worked for free and would not start to get paid until Friday 24 February 2006. Consequently, the TUC has dedicated Friday 24 February as their third 'Work Your Proper Hours Day'. The TUC is urging people who do unpaid overtime to take a proper lunch break on that day, and arrive and leave work on time.

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Campaign against long hours
September 9 2003 - The TUC has launched a new campaign against long hours. Their It's about time campaign wants people who work very long hours to call a new TUC telephone hot line or use a website to report abuses of legislation on long hours


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