Unpaid overtime forcing public sector workers to quit
Public sector workers are becoming “burnt out” and quitting their jobs after putting in millions of hours of unpaid overtime last year, according to a report.
The TUC urged everyone to work their proper hours as part of its annual campaign against excessive unpaid overtime.
The union organisation estimated that employers claimed £26bn of free labour last year, saying managers should support staff by setting reasonable workloads and putting in place policies to protect against burnout.
The study suggested that 3.5m people worked unpaid overtime in 2022, down from five million in 2018, putting in an average of 7.4 unpaid hours a week.
The figures showed that while most workers do not do unpaid overtime, it remains a “persistent problem” for millions of workers.
As in previous years, teachers were high on the list of those doing most unpaid overtime, followed by managers and directors.
Unpaid overtime is more common in the public sector, involving one in seven workers compared with one in nine in private firms, it was indicated.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Workers should get paid for the work they do. Nobody minds putting in longer hours from time to time, but employers shouldn’t rely on unpaid overtime – that’s just exploitation.
“With staff shortages in many industries, work intensity and pressure to work longer days is a big problem, and the longstanding rights workers have that place safe limits on working time are hanging by a thread.
“Whether you voted for Brexit or not, none of us voted to have our workplace protections taken away. Ministers should scrap the Bill going through Parliament that is putting these rights at risk.
“Public sector workers put in more than eight million hours a week of unpaid overtime. They can’t keep going on gratitude alone. Staff are becoming burnt out and leaving their professions.
“The first step to fixing the recruitment crisis is to give our public sector staff the pay rises they have earned – and that they need to keep them out of food banks.
“Ministers must also set out plans to speed up recruitment to fill vacancies, so that the existing staff are not left working unpaid overtime to fill the gaps.”
By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent