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UK employers were gifted £26 billion of free labour last year

February 25 2024 - According to the TUC, 3.8 million people did unpaid overtime in 2023. This averaged 7.2 unpaid hours - equivalent on average to £7,200 a year in unpaid wages.

The TUC figures show that teachers topped the list of occupations for unpaid overtime with 40% doing unpaid work and average weekly overtime across all employees at 4.4 hours. Overall, senior professionals feature prominently - including CEOs, managers and directors.

Unpaid overtime is most common in public services with 1 in 6 public sector employees (16.7%) doing unpaid overtime in 2023. This compares to 1 in 9 (11.9%) private sector workers. The 10 million hours a week unpaid overtime in the public sector was worth £11 billion a year.

Regionally, in England and Wales the highest proportion of employees doing unpaid overtime was 18.8% in London, with the lowest at 7.8% in North East England. These proportions compared to 13.2% overall.

According to TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak:

"We're encouraging every worker to take their lunchbreak and finish on time today. And we know that the best employers will support them doing that.

"Most workers don't mind putting in extra hours from time to time, but they should be paid for it.

"Part of the problem is that some employers fail to record the overtime staff do. And when they don't record it, they don't pay it.

"Conservative ministers know about this problem, but they refuse to tighten the rules on employers' records. That's not good enough. Working people deserve a government that is on their side."

Commenting on public sector overtime, he said:

"We all depend on public services. But they've been run down by Conservative cuts and mismanagement.

"That's why public sector workers do so much unpaid overtime. They are going flat out to provide the services families rely on. But burnout and staff retention are big problems.

"None of us can afford to go on like this. The government must fix pay and conditions for public sector staff, instead of relying on the goodwill of workers who are burning out. That's the only way we can rebuild our public services to the decent standard that we all need."



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