The proportion of staff doing unpaid overtime has gone up in the public sector over the last decade – and the increase in women’s unpaid overtime is the reason why.

image courtesy of GMB Yorkshire
image courtesy of GMB Yorkshire

The overall figures – compiled by the TUC – show that almost 400,000 more workers put in unpaid overtime last year compared with 10 years ago.

Effectively many of them are working the equivalent of two months a year – for no pay.

In the private sector, numbers working overtime were higher — 3.34 million in 2013 against 3.21 million in 2003; in the public sector, the numbers were 1.91 million and 1.62 million respectively.

However, the increase over the 10-year period was 131,595 in the private sector, but 267,740 in the public sector.

The increase in unpaid overtime across the public sector over the last 10 years is almost entirely driven by more than a quarter of a million extra women working hours for free.

Unpaid overtime is more common in the public sector, with more than one in four public servants working unpaid overtime compared to around one in six of workers in the private sector.

More than a quarter (27%) of public sector staff did unpaid overtime of at least an hour a week in 2013, up from 25% in 2003. The average amount of unpaid overtime worked by these staff is 7 hours 42 minutes a week — 18 minutes less than in 2003.
The proportion has barely changed in the private sector: 18.1% of staff did unpaid overtime last year, compared to 18.0% in 2003. However, those staff who worked unpaid overtime have seen a substantial increase in the amount worked to 7 hours 48 minutes in 2013 against 7 hours in 2003.

In 2003, a smaller proportion of women (24.3%) in the public sector did unpaid overtime than men (25.8%). However, women have now overtaken men with a big 3.9 percentage points increase to 28.2% in the proportion doing unpaid overtime. Meanwhile, the proportion of men in the public sector doing unpaid overtime has barely changed in the last 10 years — up 0.1 percentage points to 25.9%.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is not surprising that morale is so low across the public sector. Hours are up, workload has increased, pay has been frozen, pensions cut and jobs insecure as public sector staff know that 60% of the cuts are still to come.”

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