03 March 2015

Unpaid overtime contributes £32 billion to the UK

20% of employees are working unpaid overtime in the UK, contributing almost £32 billion to the economy according to statistics from the TUC.

Are your employees working extra hours for free? Employees who work unpaid overtime are contributing almost £32 billion to the economy.

According to the TUC, 20% of UK employees work extra hours without being paid for it. This effectively amounts to each member of staff giving their employer £6,050 through unpaid overtime.

The percentage of employees working extra hours without pay has reduced one percent from 21% in 2010, however, the average number of unpaid hours worked has risen from 7.2 in 2010 to 7.7 in 2014.  

The statistics also reveal:

  • Unpaid overtime varies by age group, with 26% of those in their 40’s working unpaid hours, compared to the average of 20% for all workers.
  • Men are working 1.2 billion unpaid hours compared to women working 0.9 billion. This is likely because a higher proportion of men are managers, who are often expected to work for longer.
  • Workers in London and the South East work the highest number of unpaid hours, followed by the East and North West. Those in the North East work the least number of unpaid overtime hours.
  • Workers in the education, health and social, scientific and technical and manufacturing sectors are working the most amount of hours for free.

This research was collated as part of Fair Pay Fortnight, which called on employers to pay staff the living wage. It encouraged managers to lead by example by taking their allotted breaks and leaving work on time.

Do you know workers’ rights?

  • You need to give your staff at least 20 minutes for a break if they work six hours or more. There is no requirement for this to be paid, although you can pay it and of course you can make this break longer.
  • Your staff are entitled to a guaranteed 24 hour rest period once in every seven days, which means no employees should work for more than seven consecutive days at a time.
  • The maximum average working week is 48 hours. Staff can work more than this in one week, providing the average doesn’t exceed the 48 hours. They can also opt out of this limit if they wish.
  • Any staff you employ have a right to 5.6 weeks’ worth of annual leave or the pro rata equivalent if they work part time.