24 February 2017
UK workers put in 2.1 billion hours for free in 2016, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed, urging Britons to take their full lunch breaks and go home on time.
Today marks the TUC’s 13th annual Work Your Proper Hours day, on which workers are called upon to reject unpaid overtime in order to highlight the amount of free labour British businesses benefit from each year.
In 2016, workers put in £33.6 billion worth of hours without payment, the TUC reports, with 5.3 million people completing an average of 7.7 hours of unpaid overtime every week.
Were they to be paid for the jobs they do, these workers would be £6,301 better off per year on average, and unless action is taken, this could get worse after the UK leaves the EU.
“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,” TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, explained.
She called on workers to “make a stand”. “Take your full lunch break and go home on time … we’re asking managers to set an example by leaving on time too.”
The Institute of Employment Rights is calling for a post-EU UK to not only protect the workers’ rights we have within the EU, but to take this opportunity to build on them. In our Manifesto for Labour Law, we call on the government to promote collectively agreed wages and conditions at both sectoral and enterprise levels so that pay, training, hours, dispute procedures and other work-related issues can be negotiated between employers and workers rather than relying on statutory individual rights.
With improved industrial relations, workers and employers can agree on mutually beneficial terms that place upwards pressure on wages, upskill the workforce, and lead to greater economic productivity by improving business practices and staff morale.
The principles of our Manifesto have been adopted by the Labour Party. Read about our policy proposals in more detail here.
You can find out how much unpaid overtime you complete by using the TUC’s calculator.