Are you one of the 1,082,827 who work unpaid overtime?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Photo: iStock

Education has topped the unpaid overtime rankings once again, as more than one million professionals – teachers, support staff and others – put in an average of 9.7 unpaid hours every week.

People working in education have once again topped the list of professionals who work unpaid overtime – with the average unpaid hours reaching 9.7 every week.

The annual Work Your Proper Hours Day figures show that 37.6 per cent of education professionals – which amounts to 1,082,827 people working in our schools, colleges and universities – put in unpaid overtime.

Work Your Proper Hours Day is held to mark the day when the average person who does unpaid overtime would start to get paid if they did all their unpaid hours at the start of the year. This year it fell on Friday (February 27).

The figures come from an analysis of the official workforce statistics by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The TUC found that UK workers as a whole gave almost £32 billion of unpaid overtime last year – an average of £6,050 each if the hours had been paid.

On average, the TUC found that 20.3 per cent of workers regularly work extra hours for no pay. However, in education this figure is at its highest – 37.6 per cent.

The next closest profession is the science and technical community, where 33.8 per cent of professionals work unpaid overtime. Information and communication (31.9 per cent) and finance and insurance (31.4 per cent) are also high on the list.

Teachers are also putting in the most unpaid hours – at 9.7 a week on average. This compares with 9.3 hours in the accommodation and food sector and 8.7 in finance and insurance. The average for all workers is 7.7 hours a week of unpaid overtime.

Education workers have found themselves at the top of the Work Your Proper Hours Day list for the past few years and the latest figures come after a number of recent surveys have revealed workload issues in education.

Earlier this year, a survey of more than 1,600 support staff in UK state schools, carried out by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, found that 46 per cent work an average of one to three hours extra per week, 21 per cent work four to six hours extra, and eight per cent more than seven hours extra. Of these, 70 per cent said they never got paid for their overtime.

Elsewhere, an NASUWT workload survey of 12,000 teachers last year found that 80 per cent had experienced more stress in the last year, 80 per cent felt their job has a negative impact on their wellbeing, and 84 per cent listed workload as their main concern.

Meanwhile, a recent National Union of Teachers (NUT) survey involving 16,000 teachers showed that 90 per cent have considered leaving the profession within the past two years, while 87 per cent know one or more teachers who have already left.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said they were "sobering statistics". She added: "Much of teachers' excessive workload is as a result of government education policies and initiatives including the totally out-of-control accountability systems. Ofsted has entirely lost the trust of the profession and there now needs to be a complete root and branch reform of accountability measures.

"Teaching is a brilliant job but we need to reclaim it. Working weekends and long into the evenings under such intense scrutiny and pressure is detrimental to the health, family and social life of teachers and is clearly bad for education."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said it was "no surprise" that teachers had topped the unpaid overtime list again.

"The TUC's findings confirm the evidence on the excessive workloads and working hours of teachers that the NASUWT has repeatedly presented to the coalition government, an issue they have failed to take seriously. These figures show that teachers are being scandalously exploited and their lives blighted by excessive workload, leaving them exhausted and stressed.

"Urgent action needs to be taken to end this unacceptable situation which is contributing to the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention."

The Work Your Proper Hours Day website features a calculator to allow you to work out when your personal Work Your Proper Hours Day is. It also offers work/life balance advice and other information. Visit

Work Your Proper Hours Day

The 2015 Work Your Proper Hours Day figures show the sector, the percentage who work unpaid overtime, and the average weekly unpaid hours they put in

  • Education 37.6%, 9.7 hours
  • Scientific, technical 33.8%, 8.4 hours
  • Information & communication 31.9%, 7.8 hours
  • Finance & insurance 31.4%, 8.7 hours
  • Mining & quarrying 25.4%, 9.2 hours
  • Electricity, gas 24.3%, 6.7 hours
  • Real estate 21.2%, 6.5 hours
  • Health social work 20.6%, 5.3 hours
  • Public administration, defence 20.3%, 6 hours
  • Construction 18.0%, 8 hours
  • Manufacturing 17.9%, 7.7 hours
  • Other services 17.1%, 7.4 hours
  • Water, sewage, waste 16.4%, 8 hours
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation 15.5%, 6.1 hours
  • Admin & support 13.0%, 6.8 hours
  • Wholesale, retail 11.7%, 7.5 hours
  • Agriculture, forestry & fishing 10.3%, 8.3 hours
  • Transport, storage 9.4%, 7.4 hours
  • Accommodation, food 6.5%, 9.3 hours
  • Overall Average: 20.3%, 7.7 hours

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