Unpaid overtime worth £23 billion

Feb 24 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Teachers and lecturers work more unpaid overtime than any other group of workers in Britain, according to research by the Trades Union Congress which claims that unrewarded extra hours are worth £23 billion a year to the British economy.

According to the TUC’s unpaid overtime league table, the average length of teachers’ and lecturers’ unpaid overtime a week is 11 hours 36 minutes, almost two hours more than the runners up in the league table, corporate and senior managers.

If teachers and lecturers did all their unpaid overtime at the start of the year, it would mean they did not start to get paid until 22 March.

The top ranks of the league table are dominated by managers and professionals. But because they are paid more, senior managers’ overtime is worth much more than any other groups.

Taking the average pay for senior managers, their average unpaid overtime of 9 hours and 48 minutes a week is worth £19,000 a year, while teachers’ longer hours are worth just half this (£9,892).

Finance and accounts staff are the biggest group of white collar staff who rank high in the unpaid overtime league table. Those who do unpaid overtime put in 7 hours 18 minutes a week on average, worth £6,000 a year.

Farm workers who do unpaid overtime also put in long unpaid hours, 8 hours 54 minutes a week, worth just over £2,500 a year on average - as do those who work in the arts, who do 8 hours 6 minutes a week, worth £5,600 a year.

The TUC has dubbed tomorrow (Friday) ‘Work your Proper Hours Day’ as it would be the first day that the average long hours employee would get paid if they did all their unpaid overtime at the start of the year. On average, people’s unpaid overtime is worth £4,650 a year.

Managers were also urged to use the day to say a proper thank you to staff for all their unpaid extra work and take them out for a coffee or cocktail after work – presumably assuming that they can take the time off from after-hours work themselves.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Everyone knows we work the longest hours in Europe. Too many workplaces are gripped by a long hours culture, where staff are expected to put in unpaid extra time week after week.

"We are not saying that we should all become clock-watchers, but it’s about time we called time on bosses who think the longer something takes the better the job is done."