A new study explores the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ work schedules which has led to significant concerns surrounding how this may be detrimentally impacting mental health.

New research from Wright Hassall LLP, a law firm based in the West Midlands, reveals that employees are performing nine or more hours of overtime a week, on average.

When comparing these statistics to previous figures, this number has tripled – with workers typically undertaking only three hours of overtime weekly before the start of the pandemic.

In addition to this, over half of respondents (52 per cent) admitted that they were not getting paid for these extra hours, equating to employees completing an extra work day for their current pay.

After being questioned about what prompted them to work longer hours, almost half of workers (48 per cent) cited lockdown as the main reason for their extended work day.

Furthermore, remote working has also had a significant impact on employees with around a third (34 per cent) struggling to log off on time, reflecting the blurred boundaries between home and life for many workers.

Almost three in 10 employees (29 per cent) stated that their increase in working overtime was rooted in a lack of job security and feeling more pressure to perform as a result.

However, working longer hours has not come without its complications. Over a third (34 per cent) stated feeling more anxious whilst over three in 10 (31 per cent) feel more stressed. A further quarter of workers reported struggling to switch off.

In addition, around a fifth (22 per cent) of employees stated that longer hours contributed to having trouble sleeping whilst 17 per cent stated that their job satisfaction has decreased as a result of the overtime.

Almost one in five workers (18 per cent) felt concern that this working schedule was going to become the norm, even after the pandemic.

The research also suggests workers are not feeling supported by their employers as 49 per cent say their employer does not offer any form of mental health support. Of those who do, almost a quarter (23 per cent) say the support is inadequate and a further fifth (19 per cent) are unsure how to access it.

Tina Chander, Head of Employment Law at Wright Hassall, comments:

Not only has lockdown had a significant impact on businesses who are struggling financially, but it has also had an impact on their employees, many of whom are working extended hours trying to keep businesses afloat.

It can be emotionally and physically draining to work extra hours for no additional pay, and even more concerning if you’re not receiving the right level of support from your employer when overtime starts to affect your mental health.

*To obtain these results, Wright Hassall surveyed 2,002 UK adults.