How many public sector workers will be working late tonight?
It’s Work Your Proper Hours Day today – in fact it’s nearly over for many of those who will be taking the TUC’s recommendation and making a point of eschewing unpaid overtime for at least one day in the year.
This year we’ve seen an increase in the number of people working what we’ve dubbed ‘extreme overtime’. This is not extra work conducted on jet-skis, but rather people who do in excess of 10 hours a week above their paid contracts), and 14,000 more reported this in 2009, bringing the total close to 900,000.
And despite what many commentators might have us believe about conditions and motivation in the public sector, a higher proportion of public sector workers worked unpaid overtime in 2009 than private sector workers (25.3% against 18.3%).
The free work these people do in the public sector was worth nearly £9 billion – quite a tidy sum. Public sector workers are also more likely to do ‘extreme’ unpaid overtime (4.9% against 3.1%), and slightly more likely to do more of it (18 hours a week average against 17.8 hours).
Now of course, there are mitigating reasons for this – just as the stories about public and private sector pay recently weren’t quite as clear cut as they may have appeared. The types of work done in the public and sector aren’t directly comparable, and in any case have changed in recent years with trends such as public sector outsourcing to the private sector.
But next time you see a story about the cost of lazy public sector workers in the paper on your commute home, you might like to consider there are probably still quite a lot of them at their desks, racking up that £9 billion of extra work.