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Millions in the UK work unpaid overtime

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Research indicates that millions of UK workers perform unpaid overtime, providing employers with billions of pounds in free labour. 

The TUC's recent study highlights that teachers are the most affected, with an average of more than four hours of unpaid overtime weekly.

It equates to an estimated £15,000 in lost earnings annually. 

Teaching unions called it “daylight robbery.”

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The fact that teachers are at the top of the list of professions working unpaid overtime is yet further shameful evidence of the Government’s failure to invest properly in our schools and colleges.

“Teachers are seeing their workloads piled higher and higher and, with cuts to support staff and cuts to other children’s services, teachers are now working around the clock.

“Our latest research found that more than half of teachers polled worked more than 50 hours a week, with some working more than 70 hours.

“This is unsustainable and unacceptable. World-class education cannot be built off the backs of over-worked and underpaid teachers and headteachers.”

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The Government has shot itself in the foot by failing to tackle working hours for so long.

“Unmanageable workload is the main driver of teachers leaving, alongside excessive accountability.

“Graduates look to teaching and the current education climate and unsurprisingly opt for other professions rather than be underpaid for excessive hours spent in buildings that are falling apart thanks to a miserly Government.”

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TUC designated "Work Your Proper Hours Day," urging workers to take entitled breaks and finish shifts on time.

It calls on managers to assign reasonable workloads and implement policies to prevent burnout. 

The report found in 2023, 3.8 million people did unpaid overtime, with teachers and health and social services managers particularly prone to this issue.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We’re encouraging every worker to take their lunchbreak and finish on time today, and we know that the best employers will support them doing that.

“Most workers don’t mind putting in extra hours from time to time, but they should be paid for it.

“Part of the problem is that some employers fail to record the overtime staff do and when they don’t record it, they don’t pay it.

“Conservative ministers know about this problem, but they refuse to tighten the rules on employers’ records.

“We all depend on public services but they’ve been run down by Conservative cuts and mismanagement.

“That’s why public sector workers do so much unpaid overtime.

“They are going flat out to provide the services families rely on but burnout and staff retention are big problems.”

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