A new analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) discloses that UK workers provided £26 billion worth of unpaid overtime in the past year.

The findings, released on the TUC’s 20th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day, highlight the prevalence of unpaid overtime and call for attention to protect workers’ rights.

The analysis reveals that unpaid overtime affects millions of workers, with 3.8 million individuals contributing an average of 7.2 unpaid hours per week in 2023. This equates to approximately £7,200 per year in unpaid wages for those workers. The TUC emphasizes the need for fair compensation for additional work hours.

Occupational Trends in Unpaid Overtime

Teachers emerged as the occupation with the highest incidence of unpaid overtime, with 40% of staff engaging in such practices. Chief executives, managers, and directors also featured prominently, indicating potential mismanagement of additional responsibilities for senior staff. The TUC calls for better regulation and oversight to ensure fair treatment of workers at all levels.

The analysis reveals that unpaid overtime is more prevalent in the public sector, with 16.7% of public sector workers contributing unpaid hours compared to 11.9% in the private sector. Public sector staff collectively provided £11 billion worth of unpaid overtime, averaging more than 10 million hours each week. The TUC highlights the strain on public services and calls for improved pay and conditions to address burnout and staff retention concerns.

Regional Disparities and Need for Strengthened Rules

Regional disparities were noted, with London having the highest proportion of workers engaged in unpaid overtime at 18.8%, compared to the national average of 13.2%. The TUC underscores the importance of addressing regional variations and strengthening rules for employer recording of working hours.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak calls on workers to take their entitled breaks and finish on time while urging employers to support these practices. He emphasizes that most workers are willing to put in extra hours occasionally but deserve fair compensation. Nowak points out the challenge of some employers failing to record overtime, leading to non-payment, and calls on the government to tighten regulations on employers’ record-keeping.

Concerns on Public Sector Overtime

Paul Nowak expresses concerns about the impact of unpaid overtime on public sector workers, attributing the situation to cuts and mismanagement. He stresses the urgency of addressing burnout and staff retention in the public sector by improving pay and conditions. Nowak emphasizes the need for a government committed to rebuilding public services to a decent standard.

As the TUC’s analysis sheds light on the widespread issue of unpaid overtime, there is a growing call for regulatory reforms to ensure fair compensation, particularly in the public sector, and to address the broader challenges faced by workers across various occupations.