Home Money Overtime rules explained, as some Britons do £9,000 of UNPAID work every year

Overtime rules explained, as some Britons do £9,000 of UNPAID work every year

by Elijah
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Almost a fifth of workers work two hours more than their contracted day
  • Almost a fifth of employees work at least two hours overtime a day
  • More than two-thirds of workers have continued working while sick
  • Refusing to work agreed overtime could breach your employment contract

More than half of the British workforce is working overtime every day as employees’ changing work patterns affect work-life balance, new data shows.

About one in five UK employees work at least two hours more than their contracted hours daily, while 51 per cent worked at least 30 minutes, research by insurance company Canada Life claims.

For those who work unpaid overtime, this extra work adds up and leaves employees penniless.

Almost a fifth of workers work two hours more than their contracted day

Based on an average hourly wage of £17.40 per hour, Canada Life estimates that employees who work an additional two hours per day, or 520 hours over a year, are losing £9,048 per year compared to if they had been paid for exceed your salary. contracted hours.

“While overtime is an occasional necessity in many jobs, well-rested employees are key to a productive work environment,” said Dan Crook, director of protection sales at Canada Life.

Crook added that the responsibility for controlling overtime falls on employers.

“Employers have an active role to play in encouraging – and allowing – their staff to take the time they need to rest and recover from their illnesses and completely disconnect from the daily routine,” he said.

“Employers should create an environment where employees who consistently work overtime can talk to them about their concerns.”

“Often all it takes is a heart-to-heart conversation with the boss to reset workloads and agree priorities,” Crook added.

The data is accompanied by a shift in work habits following the pandemic, which has seen a massive shift towards remote and hybrid work, with 39 percent of people working from home for at least part of the week, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This compares to just 12 percent of respondents before the start of the pandemic.

While the rise of hybrid working has improved work-life balance for many, freeing up time for those who have to commute a lot and reducing childcare costs, others report feeling like they must always be available for your colleagues, even outside of working hours.

“The ‘always on’ work culture we’ve embraced over the past few decades came to a head during the pandemic, as we installed home desks and new hybrid ways of working,” Crook said.

“But while the novelty of being able to work from home has worn off, the hangover of always being on the go remains.”

A tenth of workers said they can’t disconnect from their jobs during downtime, while 16 percent said they check their work emails and chats more regularly outside of work.

Even at work, employees are less focused on their own well-being: 12 percent take fewer breaks and 11 percent start work earlier than necessary.

Coinciding with this, the current cost of living crisis is also weighing on employees: a quarter say financial difficulties have made them feel more stressed about their jobs.

More than two-thirds of workers continued to work even though they were unwell, Canada Life said. Almost a fifth of them said they were worried about the financial consequences of taking sick leave.

A tenth of employees said they worry they won’t get paid if they take time off, while one in 20 said they fear being fired.

Overtime rules explained

What does the law say?

Overtime is any time you work beyond the normal working hours specified in your contract.

Legally, your employer is not required to pay you overtime, as long as your average wage for the hours you work is not less than the national minimum wage.

Your contract with your employer will include details of overtime pay rates.

While an employer cannot force you to work overtime, you may have agreed in your employment contract to work beyond normal hours from time to time.

Refusing to do so could be seen as a breach of your contract and potential grounds for dismissal.

What is the legal amount of overtime an employer can ask me to do?

Under the Working Time Regulations, an employee cannot work more than 48 hours per week unless they sign an opt-out agreement or an opt-out clause is included in their contract.

If your contract does not include mandatory overtime, then you are not obligated to work it, but neither is your employer required to offer paid overtime.

Some contracts include mandatory overtime, meaning that an employee must work overtime if offered by their employer.

In the case of guaranteed mandatory overtime, the employer must offer overtime.

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