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IT staff's overtime levels exposed

The TUC is highlighting the excessive amount of unpaid overtime being put in up and down the country
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

The UK Trades Union Congress has once more hit out at employers who abuse their authority to keep staff chained to their workstations long outside their contracted hours.

Unpaid overtime is reaching such levels now that the TUC claims the average UK worker is doing almost two months of unpaid work each year, worth £4,650 on average – with IT workers among the worst hit.

In response the TUC is striking a blow for the put-upon with a system to enable staff to inform their bosses of the liberties they are taking.

This coming Friday (25 February) is Work Your Proper Hours Day. The date is chosen because the total number of unpaid hours worked in the UK means that on average staff would have thus far worked free of charge if their unpaid hours all fell at the start of the year.

To mark the occasion, visitors to the TUC Work Smart Web site are able to send anonymous messages to their bosses suggesting a little more appreciation of that fact might be nice. Employees are also being encouraged to take their full, entitled lunch break and to leave on time.

The message, which will be delivered on Friday morning, will read: "Morning, Boss! Someone in your team has asked us to let you know that it's Work Your Proper Hours Day today. 25 February is on average the first day that people who do unpaid overtime would get paid if they did all their extra hours at the start of the year."

Paul Sellers, TUC policy officer, told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com the emails are intended as "a fun way to start the debate". However, he urged bosses to take the underlying message very seriously.

Sellers believe companies will soon feel the ill-effects of not doing so.

"We're reaching a tipping point with this issue," he said. "There are record numbers of people in work now and more and more people aren't going to settle simply for having a job. They are going to look for a job which suits their needs and which they enjoy. Working time is something people really care about and getting a sensible work-life balance will become more of a factor for UK workers."

"Working long hours can affect people's health, put a strain on their home life and on their family," added Sellers.

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