The average UK employee works an additional day over their contracted hours each week, according to research from UIA Mutual Insurance.
Excluding planned overtime, the researchers found that UK workers spend an additional three hours at work each day, for around 2.75 days per week on average. Those in the IT and Telecoms industry do the most additional hours each day (3.73), culminating in an additional nine hours of work per week.
Just under half (47%) say this is because they feel they don’t have enough time at work to do what they need to. Half (50%) of all UK workers say they feel obligated to work beyond their contracted hours.
However, Cary Cooper, 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School, told Grapevine that working longer hours does not lead to stronger productivity.
“We have the longest working hours in Europe”, he said. “And the second longest in the developed world. But our productivity is amongst the lowest.
“We also know that longer hours mean worse health. Other countries, such as Germany, have a shorter working week but are far more productive.”
He cited an experiment in Sweden, where some civil servants were given 30-hour working weeks, and other a 40-hour week.
“Those working for 30 hours took less sick leave and were more productive than those working longer hours,” he said.”
Tim Roache, General Secretary of GMB Union, linked the unpaid hours to stagnating wages.
“It’s a scandal that overworked Brits are putting in around eight hours unpaid overtime every week,” he said. “That adds up to dozens of days a year where people don’t get to see their families, friends and loved ones. It’s no wonder wages in the UK are stagnating when people feel under pressure to put in so much unpaid work.”