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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February 2005, 08:30 GMT
Working for nothing
The trade union organisation TUC is urging employers not to take staff for granted when it comes to demanding extra work for no additional payment.

Its annual survey reveals that workers in a variety of vastly different occupations are providing employers with up to almost three months free graft.

Find out about how different professions fare in the table below.

Unpaid overtime league
* Day unpaid overtime ends and your own earnings start
Occupation Average weekly unpaid hours Work for yourself date*
Teachers and lecturers 11h 36m 22 Mar
Corp managers, senior civil servants 9h 48m 11 Mar
Senior officers in armed/emergency services 9h 42m 11 Mar
Sales/finance, IT managers 9h 12m 8 Mar
Farm labourers 8h 54m 6 Mar
Accountants, management consultants 8h 12m 2 Mar
Lawyers, judges 8h 6m 1 Mar
Artists, writers, dancers 8h 6m 1 Mar
Doctors, dentists, vets 7h 30m 26 Feb
Service-industry managers 7h 18m 25 Feb
Painters, decorators, plasterers 7h 6m 24 Feb
Semi-skilled builders 7h 0m 23 Feb
Social workers, probation officers, clergy 6h 54m 22 Feb
Undertakers, pest controllers 6h 54m 22 Feb
Tailors, dressmakers 6h 48m 22 Feb
Plumbers and other skilled trades 6h 36m 20 Feb
Estate agents, sales, marketing 6h 30m 20 Feb
Journalists, PROs 6h 24m 19 Feb
Meteorologists and other scientists 6h 18m 18 Feb
Drivers 6h 18m 18 Feb
IT professionals 6h 6m 17 Feb
Electrical tradesmen 5h 48m 15 Feb
Environmental health officers 5h 42m 14 Feb
Lab technicians 5h 36m 13 Feb
Pilots, train drivers 5h 24m 12 Feb
Farmers, gardeners 5h 18m 11 Feb
Dockers, warehouse workers 5h 6m 10 Feb
Youth and community workers 5h 0m 9 Feb
Sports coaches, fitness instructors 4h 54m 8 Feb
Caretakers 4h 54m 8 Feb
Unskilled factory workers 4h 54m 8 Feb
Town planners, building inspectors 4h 36m 6 Feb
Civil servants 4h 30m 5 Feb
Butchers, bakers, cooks 4h 30m 5 Feb
Security guards, traffic wardens 4h 18m 4 Feb
Librarians, curators 4h 0m 2 Feb
Telephonists 4h 0m 2 Feb
Secretaries 4h 0m 2 Feb
Nursery/classroom assistants 3h 54m 1 Feb
Factory assemblers 3h 48m 31 Jan
Physios/therapists 3h 42m 30 Jan
Building labourers 3h 42m 30 Jan
Nurses, midwives, paramedics 3h 36m 30 Jan
Call-centre staff 3h 36m 30 Jan
Porters, bar staff 3h 36m 30 Jan
Cleaners, road sweepers 3h 12m 27 Jan
Nursing/care assistants 3h 6m 26 Jan
Postal workers 3h 6m 26 Jan
Veterinary nurses 2h 18m 19 Jan
Hairdressers 2h 12m 19 Jan
Source: TUC

Your comments

I'm not sure this study tells us anything we don't already know. I am contractually obliged (like many others) to be flexible around working times as it is often required to meet urgent client commitments. I don't get paid overtime as it is deemed to be already reflected in my base salary. A more interesting comparison would be to have a table that shows typical hourly rates for each of the professions using actual hours worked during the year. Show deductions such as tax and pension contributions and I bet you'll give rise to some very sobering thoughts.
Bryan, Scotland, UK

Where do MPs come on that list?
Stuart Grimshaw, Sheffield, UK

The survey my be right on many professions but I cannot believe that plumbers and builders fall into this - they are all home by 4.30 and on poets day its even earlier!
Chris M, Bromley

I'm quite surprised to see a lot of these occupations here. Most of them are salaried, and you get paid for doing your job - not per hour. Therefore the concept of unpaid overtime doesn't really apply.
SW, London, UK

When calculating the Teachers/Lecturers hours I do hope the TUC took into consideration the extensive paid holidays this group enjoys above and beyond that of the normal worker in the private sector? I have a number of friends that fall into this group and very few, if any, of them would agree with the figures shown once paid holiday periods are taken into account. Once again statistics show what you want them to.
C Pettit, Bedford, England

it is not uncommon for us to work 60-100 hour weeks, but we won't appear on any polls because we don't have union cover
Anon, Scotland
The poll only covers staff covered by a trade union. As video game developers (artists and software engineers) it is not uncommon for us to work 60-100 hour weeks, but we won't appear on any polls because we don't have union cover.
Anon, Scotland

Carers who look after family members are expected to work 35hrs a week for approx 45, apart poor pay (obviously minimum wage does not apply when the government has to pay) all if not most of these people have to look after the one they are caring for in many cases for 12-16 hours per day.
A Horrocks, Dalton-in-Furness Cumbria

I'm surprised to see lawyers so far down the list. Having spent the last decade in City law firms, it is absolutely commonplace for solicitors to start work at 8am or earlier and finish at 7pm or later, which is at least 3 hours on top of their contractual hours, making 15 hours of unpaid overtime a week. The terrible part is, however, that the clients still pay fees for this time, and the fees go to the partners of the firm rather than to the solicitors who actually do the work!
Dominic Bauers, Chelmsford England

I do not see how teachers do 11 hours overtime a week. I would have thought that they were contracted as most people from 9-5, School ends at 3.30, what happens for the next 1.5 hours? When I was at school most of the teachers were racing us to the gate at the end of the day! Admittedly some of the good ones do put the effort in but I still think 11 hrs extra a week seems a lot.
Tim, Gravesend England

Our daughter who gained a degree after four years at University works for a large company. She has a contract of employment in which she is to work 39 hours per week. Last week's rota book her to work 58 hours and at no extra/additional pay. This is not an isolated incident as since last June this has become the norm. No one at the firm is interested or cares. No wonder they have iniquitous profits in excess of 300M!!
My daughter has to work having left University with a debt in excess of 10K and has longed to work in the challenging events and hospitality field. However and understandably she has serious doubts that her chosen area of work will be as rewarding as first thought - she may be flogged to death before she reaches 30.
David H, Leics, England

Strange that Recruitment Consultancy isn't on your list as we on average put 5-20 hrs unpaid work a week.
Will Shilton, Manchester

Many employers get round not paying overtime by using flexitime arrangements. Sounds great on the face of it i.e. time off in lieu for extra work but it just means your colleagues have to carry your workload when you're off. The work just gets passed around for no extra pay!
Iain, Devon, UK

This statistics are absolute rubbish. No train driver would ever do an hour for free each day.
Ben, Nottingham, UK

I would like to see why chefs are missing off your list. I was paid for a 40 hr week and usually ended up working 80hrs and a min of 60hrs and I have lots of friends in the industry and this is quite the norm.
Adrian Champion, Crewe Cheshire

As a journalist, I can but dream of only doing six hours overtime a week. Double that and we're getting there...
Anon, Cheltenham, UK

I've just joined a company where we traded paid sick leave for full flexi-time. It amounts to an extra 14 days holiday a year, to be used whenever you see fit. If they used it for teaching, they'd all be on 4 day weeks, and how would the DofE explain that one away? It may not be for everyone, but it suits me down to the ground.
Matt Downes, London

Teachers may work more hours overtime - but their contracted hours are often far less than other workers!
Simon Wilson, Farnborough UK

Judging by the number of these ridiculous sets of statistics floating around I'd have expected statisticians to have been at the top list
Nick, London

Teachers get 13 weeks paid holiday a year! I'd swap those for the extra 120 minutes a day.
Anon, UK

I am a teacher in my third year and spend all my waking hours planning and marking. At least one day at the weekend is spent on work, as well as most evenings, which can be up to 5 hours. I also arrive in school around 7 to ensure all work is ready. This is not because I am disorganised but because of the sheer volume of work. Teachers teach during the day, sort out administration problems, situations with students and have to take all the planning and marking home.
Anon - don't want school to know, Dorset

I have great sympathy for Teachers working long hours, but do these figures take into account the teachers' holidays? The overtime ought to be amortised over the whole year to give a figure that can be compared with "ordinary" workers.
Ian Cummings, Newbury, UK

I see that architecture did not rate a mention in this survey even though unpaid overtime is rife throughout the industry with most firms paying no overtime at all but expecting work to be done. This was the case at my old firm where I was expected to stay until the job was done and most days I was working 12 hours for seven hours pay. The office I am in now pays overtime but only once 5 hours have been done for free, (this is embodied in our timesheets). In my experience these are good conditions in architecture. Friends I have in other firms will do more than 15 hours overtime a week with no extra pay as this is expected. Does anyone work in an industry where working conditions are as old fashioned and draconian as architecture
Ross Robertson, Edinburgh, UK

There is no way builders can do seven hours per week unpaid; some of them bill to-the-minute!
Fraser, Glasgow

Another way employers win is by the vast amount of holiday time that overworked employees simply feel under too much pressure to take
K, London, UK<
I estimate doing an average of 8 hours a week extra to my contracted hours. I know plenty of people in other professions who work far more than this. Promised time off in lieu is rarely forthcoming. Another way employers win is by the vast amount of holiday time that overworked employees simply feel under too much pressure to take. On the occasions I am in a position to leave on time, it never goes unnoticed and there is always a sarcastic comment of the 'slacker' variety to see me out of the door. We are broke, scared and unable to break this awful culture of presenteeism that permeates all sectors of the workplace these days.
K, London, UK

Frankly, I'm surprised that the figures are so low. The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians found in 2000 that doctors worked an average of 29 hours a week over their contracted 37.5; I'm sure that we are not unique amongst professions in doing so.
George Murphy, London

It seems that the "IT Professionals" category must have excluded professionals working in the video game industry. Had it done so, we would be top of the league by far. In crunch time at the end of projects it is very common to do well over an average of 30 unpaid hours of overtime per week.
Martin, Derby, UK

After reading your list. I do feel very sorry for these highly paid people for not being paid overtime who are on very good pay etc. What about the low paid workers who have to work 50/60/70 hours a week just to survive. Can't they have more money and less hours and that's if they do get paid in full.
Charles Davies, Swansea Wales

So what about architects and designers then? I know for a fact that most do more than 11.5 hours a week unpaid or would this make the general public feel less sorry for Teachers. I guess not being in a union rules us out of being on the list, but what about you Journalists then? You have a union and your unpaid hours must be pretty high, but I don't see a category for you either on the list.
Tim Eavis, London

Contact the RIBA or RIAS for average architects' unpaid hours. I suspect that this profession will come in at the top spot.
Roderick Binns, Edinburgh

I am a teacher and would like to point out that, although we do enjoy 13 weeks of holiday per year, much of that time is spent preparing lessons and/or marking or, as I did, worked through half-term last week writing reports on students.
Alex Skinner, London England

Meaningless figures since we don't know what the contracted hours are. As a clergyman I work a 60-70 hour week. I have no contracted hours so it does not count as overtime (my contract just says one day off a week). Take the 45-50 hour norm and I work 20-25 hours per week more than the average. Not complaining, I love what I do!
Chris, Gloucestershire

Why do you do it? Wake up now, before you find yourself six foot under and it'll be too late then...
Christopher Teague, Wales

I see you've managed to miss the one of the worst off the list - Game Developers - there've been times where I'd have dreamed of only having to work as little as an extra 11hrs 36m a week for no money/compensation
Leigh, UK

Er, did the TUC take account of the disparity between teachers' and lecturers' holidays and the rest of the working world when they calculated this? Sure, they do some work during holidays, but I know plenty who go away for six weeks over the summer.
VM, London

If there were any unions in video game development you'd have a different group at the top of that list. Over seven years in the job, I've done plenty of 60, 70 or 80-odd hour weeks. Coupled with the demise of so many software developers, it was enough to make me leave the industry.
Tom, London, UK

No mention of politicians who seem to work extremely long hours, especially those packing in two jobs!
Greg Patton, London

I work as a criminal defence solicitor. I am also a Duty Solicitor and can be on call for 24 hours at a time. I may not be at the police station for all the 24 hours, but I do not get paid a penny for the time I am waiting to be called out! I cannot leave the immediate area of my home address as I am contracted to be at the police station within 45 minutes of receiving a call for assistance (unless there is an exceptional reason for not doing so). In addition to being on the Duty Solicitor Rota once or twice a month I am also on call for the firm's own client's once a week including weekends. Hours are spent being restricted in what you can do in your private life, but receiving absolutely no remuneration at all. The situation is going to get worse as fixed fees will be replacing hourly rates for police station work whether or not the case is dealt with in or out of hours with no shift allowance.
Paul Brookman, Plymouth England

What nonsense. Teachers/Lecturers get the longest holidays of any workers, factor this in and you'll find they do NO unpaid overtime. As for lawyers and Judges their ridiculously large salaries are "justified" on the grounds that they work long hours. I'd gladly swap my salary (approx one fifth of a lawyers) for a few hours "unpaid" overtime.
Joanna Norcross, Steyning, West Sussex

I work an extra hour a day for which I do not get paid as I get in early, and most days I do not take a lunch hour. I always take lunch at the desk while working so you could say that on an average I work an extra 10 hours a week without pay!
E Smith, Crawley, West Sussex

I spent over 30 years teaching and am now enjoying working as a Store man. I get paid for every hour I work and I enjoy uninterrupted evenings and weekends. My wife still teaches, the reason we are here in the UK. Like New Zealand teachers, your UK teachers seem to spend more time doing job related work at home, than they do in contact with their learners. The concept that teachers have 'holidays' is a joke. My experience is that education administrators need to get time and motion experts in to free teachers of the paper work so that they can focus on meeting the needs of their learners. Also get rid of inspectors as we have in New Zealand. Bring auditors who inspect the administrators rather than the teachers.
Tony Fisher, Upminster & New Zealand

Teacher's top unpaid overtime cannot be accurate. They get far too much holiday and only work short daily hours. And then they complain if they have to mark homework or plan lessons. Not exactly taxing work. Try being a Lloyd's Insurance Broker never starting later than 8am and not finishing until 7pm Mon to Fri and that's not including work done at home, international clients phoning 24/7, dinners and entertaining until the early hours, business travel. It would put an average week at 15 to 18 hours unpaid overtime!
Anon, UK

What a load of rubbish!! So teachers work more unpaid hours that any other profession, but what other profession from this long list has the 12 weeks or more annual holiday entitlement that teachers do. This data is flawed, but no doubt the headlines will highlight our hard working teachers.
R T Cope, Burton on Trent, England

I'm a lawyer. If I add these figures on to "Tax Freedom Day" I start working for myself, rather than my employer or the government in about November!
Julian, Chester, UK

11 hours - that is not that much. They should have surveyed the videogame industry...Oh wait that doe s not have a union.
Ivan McCloskey, Dundee

I am a freelance IT consultant and there is no way I am going to work for free! Either I am on a daily rate, then I stick to 9-5 (except for the very odd occasion when there is an emergency) or I am on an hourly rate, in which case I may work some overtime, but even then it is rare. I find it hard to drag myself in to the office to work 9 to 5 five days a week as it is, let alone adding to this existing burden and for no extra money! Sounds like lunacy to me! Life is too short to spend all hours working in some office.
Jose, London

You have managed to belittle university academics effecitevly with a single sentence. The majority of these hard workers do not receive 13 weeks holiday, but 6. Teachers receive their holiday due to the impossibilty of teaching without pupils, however university lecturers have a great deal else to their jobs. I am not saying that teachers have it easy (as a trained teacher myself), but lecturers are not teachers. Teaching is not the major part of their careers; research is. When is the best time to complete proper research, deal with PhD students, complete numerous admin tasks? When the undergraduates have gone home.

Undergraduates do not attend the university for, usually, slightly under six months. This may seem a large amount of "free time" (and as far as students are concerned, is welcome), but it is during this time that academics can complete their non-teaching tasks, and take their holiday. This means that lecturers have the disadvantage versus teachers of having fewer weeks holiday, and a disadvantage over other occupations of having to take those holidays at peak times (ie: during school holidays). Both these occupations deserve far more respect than they get, especially an end to the "massive holiday" comments they all receive.
Toby Reisch, Loughborough

Teachers top unpaid overtime poll
24 Feb 05 |  Business
Long hours can work for all
24 Feb 05 |  Business

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