UK employees clocking three hours of unpaid overtime weekly

Unpaid overtime eating up employees' lunch breaks

UK employees clocking three hours of unpaid overtime weekly

Nearly half of employees in the United Kingdom are carrying out three hours of unpaid overtime work a week, a new report from Ciphr has revealed.

Ciphr's survey among 1,000 UK employees showed that 43% are working unpaid overtime, nearly double than those who said they don't (23%).

Those who are working unpaid overtime said they are clocking an average of around three hours (184 minutes) a week, which is equivalent to a total of 18 additional days (over 139 hours) a year.

The most common way an employee ends up working overtime is by using up their allocated time for lunch. In fact, the report found that 32% of those who are working three hours of unpaid overtime weekly said they haven't been able to take their allocated lunch break in the past week.

These findings reflect the growing problem of unpaid overtime across workplaces across the world. In Singapore, majority of employees there believe they're working up to 10 hours of unpaid work every week.

Who are most likely to work overtime?

According to the Ciphr report, employees in managerial roles are typically working unpaid overtime, with senior managers clocking in 248 minutes of unpaid overtime weekly.

Hybrid (58%) and remote workers (51%) are also more likely to log unpaid overtime work over on-site staff (42%), according to the report, challenging the advertised work-life balance that these workers were supposed to enjoy under their flexible arrangements.

Remote workers who are working unpaid overtime are clocking 212 minutes of unpaid work every week on average, while hybrid staff are logging 201 minutes a week.

Problem with unpaid overtime

Working extra hours could mean a lot of things, according to Claire Williams, chief people officer at Ciphr. Some could be enjoying their work and want more to do, while some just want to finish what they're working on and remove it from their to-do list.

"The issues occur when unpaid overtime is both very frequent and excessive, when employees aren't taking enough breaks and the downtime they need, and when there's a lack of recognition from an employer that there's an underlying problem – usually, but not always, workload-related – that needs to be urgently addressed," Williams said in a statement.

Previous research has pointed out that high level of unpaid working hours could lower productivity among employees, contrary to the popular belief that more hours mean more productivity.

Williams said Ciphr's study should remind employers to keep track of their employees' working hours.

"If regular overworking is a problem, and employees are raising their concerns, don't ignore the situation – it's definitely in an employer's interest to understand what they can do to help, and make changes where possible, before it impacts an individual's health and wellbeing, and, ultimately, the wider business," she said.

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