Over five million people working in the UK regularly do unpaid overtime, which is worth over £28 billion to the economy, according to the TUC.
To combat this, today (27th February) is Work Your Proper Hours Day, a campaign designed to encourage employees to take a proper lunch break and leave work at their contracted time for the overall benefit of themselves and their company.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD) the trade body for the group risk industry, said:
“For the one in five employees who regularly work unpaid overtime or skip their breaks it can be tempting to put in the hours to keep up with workload, impress their boss or do the same as other staff who also decide to stay late. From time to time, it is necessary to stay after hours but when it becomes a regular pattern it can have a negative impact on the business. Regularly working overtime could eventually lead to low morale, exhaustion and stress amongst employees – which in turn could cause long-term absence and have harsh consequences on the bottom line.
“Managers on hand to spot signs of stress – a strategy now adopted by one in ten employers according to our research – could intervene to offer the right support before this becomes a real issue. On top of this, a Group Income Protection policy (with extra support services such as an Employee Assistance Programme, HR or legal advice, mental health first aid training, fast access to CBT and counselling), can help employers with prevention and improved access to rehabilitation when stress does take hold. Taking steps to avoid this situation now will be more effective in the long term, but having a cushion of support there should staff begin to struggle will protect businesses as well as employees.”
Work Your Proper Hours day is the day when the average employee who regularly does unpaid overtime finishes the 40 unpaid days they work annually and starts earning for themselves.
2015 is the 11th year the TUC has campaigned for proper working hours on the last Friday of February. Their aim is to raise awareness about work/life balance as well as reminding employers of the value of unpaid work.