Welsh workers put in £717 million worth of unpaid overtime last year – Wales TUC analysis

26 Feb 2021 10:41 AM

Workers in Wales put in £717 million of unpaid overtime in 2020 today is ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’ when workers are encouraged to finish on time with the active support of their employers

Welsh employers claimed £717 million of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis published today (Friday) by Wales TUC.

Today is the TUC’s 17th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day. On this day, workers are encouraged to finish shifts on time. And managers are encouraged to support staff by setting reasonable workloads and with workplace policies that protect against burnout.

Main findings and impact of the pandemic

Across the UK, more than 3 million people put in an average of 7.7 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2020. On average, that’s equivalent to £7,300 a year of wages going unpaid for work done.

In Wales, 8.4% of employees did unpaid overtime, averaging 8.6 hours per week. That is equivalent to £6,841 a year of wages going unpaid and is the highest number of unpaid hours worked per week in the UK (see Table 3 in the notes)

With many workers furloughed and reducing their hours of work to care for children, the number of hours worked in the economy has fallen. Compared to recent years, this is reflected in significantly lower numbers of workers doing unpaid overtime. The total unpaid hours and financial value of unpaid hours worked is down too. (see Table 1 in notes)

The top 10 occupations for unpaid overtime are dominated by managers are directors. It suggests that the additional responsibilities of senior staff are not properly supported by employers.

As in previous years, teachers are high up. The challenges of keeping schools open for the children of key workers, while providing home learning lessons too, has kept up their work intensity. (see Table 2 in notes)

Wales needs a ‘Workers’ Budget’

Wales TUC is calling on the UK Government to put forward a ‘Workers’ Budget’ next week. That means providing the funding necessary to invest in the green jobs and infrastructure that Wales needs to modernise our economy, the funding to ensure that all key workers in Wales can get a pay rise, and committing to raising the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour.

Wales TUC is also calling on the UK Government to quickly bring forward the long-promised Employment Bill. It provides a vital opportunity to strengthen protections against work intensity.

Wales TUC General Secretary, Shavanah Taj said:

“Many people don’t like to complain about work intensity in the pandemic. They feel thankful to still have a job. But these figures show the incredible scale of work that is going unpaid in Wales and the unfair burden that has been placed on many workers.”

“The Chancellor should deliver a ‘Workers’ Budget’ that recognises the efforts that people have made. We need the UK Government to put the funding in place so that every key worker can get a pay rise. And to protect jobs and businesses, furlough should be extended to at least the end of the year.”

Editors Note

- Analysis of unpaid hours worked in 2020

Table 1 – comparison of headline data for 2020 with recent years

 

2020

2019

2018

Number of employees working unpaid overtime

3,365,668

5,127,469

5,013,434

% of employees working unpaid overtime

12.1%

18.5%

18.2%

Total weekly hours of unpaid overtime

26,044,365

39,031,340

37,637,328

Annual total of unpaid overtime (hours)

1,354,306,965

2,029,629,667

1,957,141,061

Weekly average unpaid hours for workers who do unpaid overtime

7.7

7.6

7.5

Total annual value of unpaid overtime

£23,795,173,383

£35,011,111,756

£32,703,827,133

Average annual loss for a worker doing unpaid overtime

£7,070

£6,828

£6,523


Table 2 – top 10 occupations for most unpaid overtime

 Occupation

Average hours unpaid overtime per week across:

Proportion doing unpaid overtime

Total weekly unpaid overtime hours for occupation

All employees

Employees doing unpaid overtime

Chief Executives and Senior Officials

4.1

12.3

33.0%

475,837

Health & Social Services Managers/Directors

3.3

9.7

34.3%

374,842

Senior Officers in Protective Services

2.9

11.4

25.9%

175,463

Functional Managers and Directors

2.9

9.9

28.8%

2,937,396

Teaching and Educational Professionals

2.6

10.7

24.5%

4,072,781

Legal Professionals

2.6

9.0

28.9%

446,896

Financial Managers and Directors

2.6

8.8

29.2%

229,249

Business, Research & Admin Professionals

2.2

8.8

25.0%

1,777,360

Managers & Directors in Retail/Wholesale

2.2

10.3

21.2%

580,237

Production Managers and Directors

2.2

8.8

24.8%

929,823


Table 3 – unpaid overtime by UK region

Region

Average hours unpaid overtime per week, for those who do unpaid overtime

Proportion employees doing unpaid overtime

Annual total loss (£ millions)

Average annual loss for those working unpaid overtime

North East

7.2

9.0%

£559m

£5,795

North West

7.3

10.5%

£1,977m

£6,237

Yorks & Humberside

7.7

10.4%

£1,471m

£6,250

East Midlands

6.7

11.5%

£1,291m

£5,550

West Midlands

7.9

13.0%

£2,125m

£6,709

East of England

7.9

12.8%

£2,318m

£6,903

London

8.0

15.9%

£6,292m

£10,000

South East

7.8

13.6%

£3,909m

£7,279

South West

7.9

12.9%

£1,913m

£6,552

Wales

8.6

8.4%

£717m

£6,841

Scotland

7.3

9.5%

£1,434m

£6,512

Northern Ireland

8.1

6.6%

£304m

£6,303


Methodology for the analysis: This Wales TUC analysis is based on ONS Labour Force Survey data covering July-Sep 2020. Wales TUC uses the Jul-Sep quarter to calculate unpaid overtime rates every year on Work Your Proper Hours Day. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant more variation than usual in the labour market over the course of the year. More recent data (Sep-Nov 2020) shows numbers of workers doing unpaid overtime increasing, along with the number of unpaid overtime hours they each do.

Choice of date for Work Your Proper hours Day (WYPHD): The date of Work Your Proper Hours Day is usually based on a calculation. We identify the day in the year when the average worker doing unpaid overtime effectively stops working for free – and WYPHD falls on the closest Friday.

For the last few years, it has always fallen on the last Friday in February. This year, the calculation is significantly affected by people working reduced hours in the pandemic. That alters the ratio between unpaid overtime and paid hours, resulting in a later date.

However, we decided not to move the date into March, as there is now widespread expectation that WYPHD will fall at the end of February. We will keep decisions on future dates under review with reference to any consistent pattern that emerges after the pandemic.

About Wales TUC:  Wales TUC exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more 400,000 working people in Wales who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Contacts:

Liam Perry – lperry@tuc.org.uk