Monday 6 March 2017

Brits Are Now Working A Whole Extra Day A Week For Free - Your Rights


If you feel overworked, there's a good chance you are - along with millions more employees in the UK.

New figures reveal British workers are on average putting in 8.4 hours of overtime each week - that's equivalent to another day in the office - or 68 days a year.

And to make matters worse, 65% of us aren't even getting paid for it - despite four in five workers skipping lunch to keep their boss happy.

Put into perspective, that's the equivalent of working for free until the 9th of March each year.

Given the findings by TotallyMoney, it comes as no surprise to find that almost 60% of workers feel that they have a poor work/life balance - with just 13% people claiming they work overtime for the love of their job.

Londoners and staff in Bristol are most likely to be compensated for their time out of hours, while workers in Birmingham and Liverpool are amongst the worst hit.

Unions body the TUC said UK workers gave their employers £33.6billion of free labour last year.

Percentage of workers getting paid for overtime

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Few of us mind putting in some extra time when it’s needed. But if it happens all the time and gets taken for granted, that’s a problem.

“The best bosses understand that a long-hours culture doesn’t get good results. So we’re asking managers to set an example by leaving on time too.

“Anyone worried about the long-hours culture in their workplace should get together with workmates and join a union. That way you can get your voices heard and get the support you need to make sure your boss doesn’t break the rules.

“The government still doesn’t have a water-tight plan to stop working time protections getting weaker when we leave the EU.

"The Prime Minister should promise to put a guarantee into our future trade deals with Europe that British workers will have a level playing field with EU workers," O'Grady added.

The hardest hit workers

Those in publishing and journalism work the most overtime per week (10.1 hours) - with half citing pressure from colleagues as their primary reason for going above and beyond, almost too often.

Adding to this, 44% of employees in this field have carried out work related duties on their holidays, whilst 41% admit to sending work related emails or making calls outside of hours.

Teachers work an average of 6.5 hours overtime each week, with eight out of ten not being paid according TotallyMoney's investigation on 2,000 workers.

A TUC report in February also found over 729,652 teachers in Britain are currently working above hours for free, to the tune of 12 hours a week, when you factor in marking, class preparations and lesson time.

In the healthcare sector, workers are putting in an extra 7.7 hours of overtime each week, with 55% not being paid for these hours. Almost half of workers - 45% claim this is simply down to too much work.

The TUC said 29,586 health and care service managers worked overtime last year - accounting for 10 hours' a week.

The most frequent reason given for working these overtime hours is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work.

One in three environment and agriculture workers are paid for the 10 hours overtime they work each week.

Only 32% of hospitality workers claim to have a good work/life balance whilst they rack up 9.9 hours overtime each week.

How much overtime do you work?

If you think you're going well above your weekly threshold, calculate your hours below to work out how much you could be losing in earnings.

Working hours: What your rights are

The government's Working Time Regulations determine the maximum weekly working time, patterns of work and holidays, plus the daily and weekly rest periods for workers in Britain.


They also cover the health and working hours of night workers.

The Regulations apply to both part time or full-time workers, including the majority of agency workers and freelancers, although certain categories of workers are excluded.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) says the Working Time Regulations provide rights to:

  • A limit of an average 48 hours a week on the hours a worker can be required to work, though individuals may choose to work longer by "opting out".
  • Paid annual leave of 5.6 weeks' a year
  • 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period
  • A 20-minute rest break if the working day is longer than six hours
  • One day off each week
  • A limit on the normal working hours of night workers to an average eight hours in any 24-hour period, and an entitlement for night workers to receive regular health assessments.

There are special regulations for young workers, which restrict their working hours to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. The rest break is 30 minutes if their work lasts more than 4.5 hours. They are also entitled to two days off each week.


ACAS says overtime is classed as hours that are worked above normal full time hours - the time frame that can be found in the contract. Overtime can be voluntary or compulsory. Compulsory overtime would form part of the terms and conditions of employer.

Unfortunately, there is no legal right to be paid extra for any overtime worked, this may be detailed in the terms of employment.

What about the 48 hour working week?

The law says that most workers shouldn’t have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. This includes overtime.

You can choose to work more than 48 hours a week - but your employer can't tell you that you have to.

If you're under 18, you normally aren't allowed to work more than 40 hours a week.

If a worker agrees to work beyond the 48-hour limit they must put it in writing, this is generally known at an 'opt-out'.

Workers have the right to cancel the opt-out agreement, although they must give their employer at least 7 days' notice - a longer period of notice may be agreed by the employer, but it can be no longer than 3 months.

Young people (16 and 17 year olds) normally cannot opt-out of the 48 hour working week, as they may not normally work more than a 40-hours per week.

'I'm being forced to work more than 48 hours'

Your employer can't force you to work more than 48 hours a week if you haven’t agreed to it in writing. If they do, they could be breaking the law.

If you feel they're taking advantage, raise your concern with your employer to try and work it out.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) says if you want to make a formal complaint, you are well within your rights to do so.


To do this, put it in writing to your company or boss. The letter should set out what your complaint is with enough detail for your employer to be able to investigate it properly. You can use CAB's template letter to set out the details of your grievance.

If you need to take matters further, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. To do this, you must notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) of your potential claim first.

If you refuse to work more than 48 hours a week and feel like you're being treated differently because of it, you could be being unfairly treated. If nothing is resolved, you can raise a grievance and then go to a tribunal.



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