Britons lose £4,800 each in unpaid overtime, says TUC

Employees in the UK who do unpaid overtime do an average of seven hours' extra work a week, and would take home an extra £4,800 a year if they were paid the average wage for those unpaid hours, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC has calculated that if everyone in the UK who works unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday 23rd February. The TUC performs this calculation annually and it has declared 23rd February its 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' for 2006.

It calls on employees to use the day to remind bosses of their extra unpaid work by taking a proper lunch break and going home on time for this one day a year. Employers should also use the day to say thank you to staff for their unpaid work, perhaps by buying them lunch or an after-work coffee or cocktail, the TUC suggests.

Across UK people did £23 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year. But there was a small drop of 18 minutes in the average amount of extra work – from seven hours 24 minutes to seven hours 6 minutes put in by the average worker doing unpaid overtime.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'We work the longest hours in Europe, and too many workplaces are gripped by a long hours culture. There are some small signs that we are getting a bit better, but there is still a long way to go. That is why we say that employees should take a stand on 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' and for just one day a year take a full lunch break and go home on time."

'We do not want to turn Britain into a nation of clock watchers, and few mind putting in extra effort from time to time when it is needed, but it is too easy for extra time to get taken for granted and then expected every week," he said.