Unpaid overtime in 2008: a record year for long hours

The TUC has calculated that 5.24 million people across the UK worked unpaid overtime in 2008, bringing its total value across the UK to a record £26.9 billion - the highest number since records began in 1992. If you're one of them, you might be missing out on extra £5,139 a year if you'd been paid for the additional 7 hours and 6 minutes that you're on average putting in. The biggest increases in unpaid overtime have taken place in London, the East Midlands and Eastern England. The South East and Scotland have been better at keeping up their work life balance though, with the number of people working unpaid overtime actually falling slightly. If the average unpaid overtime worker did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday 27 February, which we call 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' - a light-hearted awareness day for staff to work their proper hours for at least one day a year and for employers to thank their staff for regularly putting in all those extra hours at work. But while some of this increase is due to the longs-hours culture that still dogs too many British workplaces, the recession will now be making many people scared of losing their job in the year ahead and joining the ever-growing dole-queue. It's understandable people are going to be putting in extra hours if they think it can help protect against redundancy or help keep their employer in business. But this doesn't mean people should ignore excessive working. Friday 27 February should still be used to think through working hours. Long hours are bad for people's health, and employers should never forget that each extra hour worked makes people less productive once they're over a sensible working week. We think the recession should, if anything, provide a spur to make workplaces more productive, and for managers to get staff to work together more effectively, not just compete for who can stay the latest. Find out more about Work Your Proper Hours Day 2009.