Women in public sector working more unpaid overtime

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The number of staff doing unpaid overtime has gone up in the public sector over the last decade, but has held steady in the private sector, according to a new analysis of official figures published today (Sunday) by the TUC.

The analysis is published ahead of Work Your Proper Hours Day on Friday (28 February) – the day when those who do unpaid overtime would start to get paid if they did all their unpaid work at the start of the year.

Unpaid overtime is more common in the public sector, with more than one in four public servants doing unpaid overtime compared to around one in six of workers in the private sector.

More than a quarter (27.4 per cent) of public sector staff did unpaid overtime of at least an hour a week in 2013, up from 24.8 per cent in 2003. The average amount of unpaid overtime done by these staff is 7 hours 42 minutes a week – 18 minutes less than in 2003.

The increase in unpaid overtime across the the public sector over the last decade is almost entirely driven by more than a quarter of a million extra women doing hours for free.

In 2003 a smaller proportion of women (24.3 per cent ) in the public sector did unpaid overtime than men (25.8 per cent). Women have now overtaken men with a big 3.9 percentage point increase in the numbers doing unpaid overtime to 28.2 per cent. The proportion of men doing unpaid overtime has barely changed in the last decade (up 0.1 percentrage points to 25.9 per cent).

In the private sector 18.1 per cent of staff did unpaid overtime last year, compared to 18.0 per cent in 2003. However, those staff who do unpaid overtime have seen a a substantial increase in the amount they do from 7 hours in 2003 to 7 hours 48 minutes in 2013.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Times are tough for public sector workers. As the cuts bite and fewer staff find themselves having to take on more work, unpaid overtime inevitably grows.

“Some of the increase will be down to the professionalism and commitment of staff who want to provide decent services. But there is also evidence of bullying and excessive management pressure in some workplaces.

“It is not surprising that morale is so low across the public sector. Hours are up, workload has increased, pay has been frozen, pensions cut and jobs insecure as public sector staff know that 60 per cent of the cuts are still to come.”

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