From the TUC

Seven weeks to pay day: Unpaid overtime at 2 billion hours

05 Jan 2012, by in Working Life

Depressed about your return to work? I don’t want to make things worse but there’s a one in five chance you’ll effectively be working for free until the 24th of February.

Every year the TUC number crunches the amount of unpaid overtime worked by employees across the UK and calculates at what point of the year they would effectively start getting paid if they did all their unpaid hours from the first of January.

The effective pay date for 2012 is Friday 24th February and we’ve named it in Work Your Proper Hours Day in honour of the five million workers who give the economy a huge – but often unrecognised – boost by regularly doing unpaid overtime.

British workers are constantly being attacked for being late, pulling sickies or not pulling their weight, often off the back of spurious surveys commissioned by organisations desperate for publicity.

Work Your Proper Hours Day points out that in actual fact workers are very committed to their jobs and often go that extra mile to help their employer out. It’s high time we started celebrating what’s good about the work we do, rather than selling ourselves short.

This year the TUC has calculated that the two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked last year is equivalent to a million full-time jobs. We’re not saying that cutting out unpaid overtime would create a million jobs. Frankly, a lot of those unpaid hours are simply a result of a culture of pointless presenteeism where staff judged on the hours spent at their desk rather than the work they do. Cutting out those unnecessary hours would save staff and businesses a lot of time.

But there are a small number of employers who routinely overwork staff, don’t pay them for the extra hours worked and take the extra profit instead. This kind of attitude can be bad for workers’ health and can hold back job creation.

What we need are smarter working practises to give staff a better work-life balance and boost productivity, which will hopefully make it easier for employers to grow and recruit new staff.

If you want to celebrate Work Your Proper Hours Day in your work on 24th February there’ll be information, advice, posters and quizzes available from in the coming weeks.