Most employees work overtime, says a study, but 72 percent do not get paid for the additional hours.

The research by the HR team at Factorial showed how much businesses are gaining in free overtime from employees working longer hours. This includes those who work on their days off, are contacted out of hours or when they are off sick.

It was initially found that 81 percent of UK adults in full time employment regularly work outside of their contracted hours.    34 percent told the researchers they felt their workload and hours worked had significantly increased since the start of the pandemic.

When asked in what instances they were likely to work overtime, 90 percent said they were working longer days. 30 percent said they were contacted outside of work hours by managers, colleagues or clients, while 32 percent combined said they were working while signed off sick or on annual leave.

“We’ve all done a little overtime here and there because the work has needed to be done, but the results here tell a different story,” said Bernat Farrero, CEO of Factorial. “What we see here is that, for many reasons including being understaffed, there simply aren’t enough hours in the working week to get the required job done and staff are therefore having to go above and beyond.”  

Workers need security 

Many of the workers said they worked the overtime as they were keen to prove their worth for job security. The average amount of additional hours worked over the course of a month was found to be 16 hours.

With an estimated 24.4 million UK adults in full time employment – and factoring in just those who do not get paid for their overtime – this equates to businesses receiving more than 3 billion hours of unpaid work every year.

Based on the 18+ National Living Wage, this more than £22bn in free overtime for UK businesses.

Based on the average UK wage of £15.65 an hour, however,  this is almost £53bn a year in free work that businesses are gaining from their staff.

Skills shortage

Mr Farrero warns that staff should not be made to work overtime for no pay. He said this could be adding to the skills shortage.

“This is dangerous for companies as it can easily lead to staff becoming disappointed with their roles, overworked, burnt out and – ultimately – this will lead to an increase in staff turnover.”

Mr Farrero’s advice is simple: pay staff for additional hours.

He said: “There are many ways the companies can counteract this; firstly, they can look to hire additional employees to help pick up the slack, but they could also consider paying their employees for the additional hours they’ve regularly having to put in to get the job done.”





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.