London’s workers put in more than 361 million hours of unpaid overtime last year, or the equivalent of nearly 190,000 jobs, according to research.
An employee in the capital is more likely to work beyond their hours than a worker from any other region, with 26.9 per cent of Londoners going the extra mile for their boss compared to the national average of 21.1 per cent, the TUC’s figures show.
The national trade union centre’s Labour Force Survey Summer Quarter 2011 found 848,000 workers in London put in an average of 8.2 hours of unpaid overtime each week last year, adding up to a total of 361,587,200 hours – the equivalent of 187,935 jobs.
However, the number of workers in the capital working beyond their hours has fallen by 27,000 from last year’s figures, or a drop of 0.9 percentage points.
Unpaid overtime across the country was worth approximately £29.2bn to the economy. The average UK employee worked 7.2 hours unpaid per week in 2011 to a value of around £5,300 per person.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The heroic amount of extra unpaid hours put in by millions of workers make a vital – but often unsung – contribution to the UK economy.”
The TUC said if workers who regularly worked unpaid overtime put in all of their hours from the start of the year then the first day they would get paid would be February 24. This date will be designated the TUC’s first Work Your Proper Hours Day.
Reducing the amount of unpaid overtime would not directly translate into extra jobs, the TUC admitted. It said many of the hours came from a British work culture of pointless presenteeism, although the organisation added excessive hours of unpaid overtime was stifling job creation.
Barber continued: “While many politicians and financial institutions have spectacularly failed to do their bit to help the UK economy, millions of hard-working staff clearly have and we hope employers congratulate them for their efforts on Work Your Proper Hours Day this year.
“But while many of the extra unpaid hours worked could easily be reduced by changing work practices and ending the UK’s culture of pointless presenteeism, a small number of employers are exploiting staff by regularly forcing them to do excessive amounts of extra work for no extra pay.
“This attitude is not only bad for workers’ health, it’s bad for the economy too as it reduces productivity and holds back job creation.
“No-one wants to see us become a nation of clock-watchers. But a more sensible and grown up attitude to working time could cut out needless unpaid hours and help more people into work.”