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Brits rack up £43 billion of unpaid overtime a year

A third of Brits say remote access stops them from switching off

The latest research from reed.co.uk has calculated that Britain’s workforce clocks up £43 billion worth of unpaid overtime every year.

The research revealed that one in five UK employees work eight or more hours of overtime every week – that’s one whole extra day. What’s more, only 40% are paid for the additional hours put in.

Those in the South East are the least likely to be paid for the extra hours clocked up, with some 68% working unpaid hours, closely followed by 64% in the South West and 61% of those living in the West Midlands.

Of the 1,500-plus jobseekers surveyed by reed.co.uk, more than two-thirds admitted to working some form of overtime. On average they work almost four hours of overtime each week – that’s around 192 extra hours every year, or 24 working days per person – almost the same as the average worker’s holiday entitlement.

The data revealed that teachers and engineers are the most likely to toil away after hours, working an average of six hours’ overtime each week.

Almost 60% confessed they often work through lunch and nearly half revealed they regularly stay late in the office.

But it’s not all skipped lunch breaks and late evenings – some of those extra hours are being racked up outside of the office. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed admitted to being ‘always-on’ as they constantly check their work email outside of their regular office hours.

The majority of those surveyed attributed their extra hours to workload demands (58%), with staff shortages being the second most cited reason (19%).

Lynn Cahillane, Communications Manager at reed.co.uk says: “This is yet more evidence of how hard the UK works. The extent to which people are willing to go above and beyond in the name of getting the job done is a positive reflection of our attitude to work and testament to how much we value our jobs.

“This is great news for employers, although businesses should always be cautious of becoming over reliant on the heroic efforts of those members of staff who are always prepared and able to go the extra mile.”