Last year, over five million British workers put in more than two billion hours of unpaid overtime – that’s a staggering £32 billion of unpaid work! So we think they should be celebrating the final Friday of Fair Pay Fortnight (16 February – 1 March) with a bit more well-earned me-time.
Today is the TUC’s 11th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day. No, we didn’t just stick a pin in the calendar – 27 February is significant because it’s the day when people doing unpaid overtime (averaging 7.7 hours a week) would finally start getting paid if they worked all their unpaid hours up-front at the start of the year. Put it another way: 1 in 5 UK workers are working an average of nigh on two months every year for free!
Give yourself a break
So at least for today, we’re calling on all those who work longer than fair, healthy or necessary to make a point of taking their full lunch break and leaving work on the dot. We also want managers to lead by example and do the same, and to reflect on how far they could work smarter in future so their staff don’t continue working outside their contracted hours for free. Extra hours are sometimes unavoidable at busy times or ahead of big deadlines. But these should be the exception not the norm, and compensated for with time off in lieu or overtime payments. According to TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady,
“Millions of workers go the extra mile every week, boosting the profits of companies across the country while they lose out on thousands of pounds from their pay packets. Bosses who encourage long hours in the office should rethink their approach as stressed, over-worked staff are often unhappy and less productive.”
As well as poor morale and performance at work, persistent overworking can also have negative consequences for your health, relationships and personal life. None of which is good for you or your employer.
Work your proper hours every day
Working more than your contracted hours is not always down to unreasonable demands from your boss or a stay-late culture at work – poor time management or others’ perceived expectations, for example, can also keep you late or working weekends when you really ought to be kicking back with friends or family. So what needs to give? Our handy summary of the five main reasons for working long hours makes for interesting reading (Are you a ‘stay-late sheep’? Is your boss a ‘cat-herder’? ) and offers advice on how to deal with the long-hours scenarios that may apply to you. We’ve also put together a quick quiz to help you work out what you or your employer could be doing to break your pattern of unpaid overtime. Here’s wishing you a happy and productive Work Your Proper Hours Day. Unless it’s already after hours – in which case, stop what you are doing and leave now!