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UK employees working £4.2bn in free labour

Recent data has revealed that unpaid overtime has increased as a result of remote working.

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Since the move to remote work various studies have indicated that employees are working longer hours, and now additional data has found that UK staff are working £4.2bn in free labour every week.

 

A new study by the ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View, revealed that unpaid overtime in the UK has risen from six hours in 2019 to seven hours in 2020 in the advent of Covid-19, increasing to almost eight hours in 2021.

 

It seems that UK staff members are working an average of 7.8 hours per week without pay, almost a full hour more than the European average of 6.7. This equates to over £8,000 annually per employee, and across the working population, £219bn a year in free labour.

 

According to the report, overtime can include working over breaks, starting early or staying late and putting in several hours of extra work each day for no additional pay.

 

It also discovered that essential workers put in more unpaid overtime than non-essential workers, at 8.9 hours per week on average compared to 6.9 hours.

 

Figures also rose among younger workers, with those aged between 18 and 24 putting in an average of 9.35 hours unpaid.

 

Commenting on the findings, Jeff Phipps, managing director of ADP UK, noted that employers continue to foster “a culture of long hours and presenteeism”. This is despite various studies and evidence finding this way of working doesn’t work.

 

Phipps added: “Due to the pandemic, unpaid overtime has risen to eight hours this year alone. That’s two hours more compared to 2019. We know that employees perform well when they are engaged, healthy and motivated, with fair and transparent compensation for their efforts.

 

“Contrary to the high levels of unpaid overtime, which will only leave employees at risk of burnout, with negative long-term impacts for both productivity and performance.”

 

He pointed out that for this to change, leaders and managers must adapt to the changing working landscape and set realistic objectives and deadlines that employees can meet.

 

“Action is needed to shift the focus from quantity of hours worked to quality of output while giving staff sufficient downtime to recharge and spend time with their families. And if overtime is essential, employers must ensure that the additional hours are both rewarded and recognised effectively,” he concluded.

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