Workers did £24 billion in unpaid overtime during 2020

Number crunching by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed the extent to which Britons have put in unpaid overtime since the start of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The data – released to coincide with Work Your Proper Hours Day today (26 February) – found that more than three million people carried out the equivalent of £24 billion of unpaid labour during 2020. This equates to around 7.7 hours of unpaid overtime every week.

If employees were paid for this extra level of work, the TUC found they would pocket an extra £7,300 per year.

Although 2020’s extra hours worked were lower than those recorded in 2019, the TUC said the extent to which people feel pressurised into putting in more hours is unacceptable.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:The impact of working from home has been to increase unpaid hours worked. As the UK begins to slowly exit from the pandemic, employers must support workers to balance work with their home lives, leisure and families.”

She added: “Ministers should help by bringing in new rights to flexible working for everyone. And everyone should make sure  they end their shift and log off on time on Work Your Proper Hours Day.”

To mark today’s call for staff only to work those they are mandated to do, the TUC said it would appeal to the Chancellor to not forget workers ahead of next week’s Budget.

It has called for current pay freezes affecting 2.7m public sector staff to be revoked; for the minimum wage to be raised to at least £10 per hour, and for government to provide funding to fill vacant jobs.

The TUC said it would also be calling on the government to bring forward its long-awaited employment bill, and said it would continue to lobby for better protections for workers to prevent overwork and burnout.

According to the TUC’s data, 12% of employees now do unpaid overtime, racking up nearly 1.4m extra hours of work. It found companies are saving nearly £24bn each year by not paying staff for this time.