THE unpaid hours of overtime worked in the North East last year would be enough to create 30,000 extra jobs, says union chiefs.
Now the TUC is urging bosses to thank staff for the extra time they contribute.
The Northern TUC says 57million hours of unpaid overtime was worked last year across the region – worth £750million to the North East economy, and roughly equivalent to 30,000 extra full-time jobs.
If workers who regularly put in unpaid overtime worked all their unpaid hours in one go from the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday, February 24, which the TUC has named Work Your Proper Hours Day.
The TUC analysis of official figures shows 177,000 workers across the North East put in an average of 6.2 hours of unpaid overtime per week last year, worth about £4,200 a year per person.
Across the UK, 5.3million workers put in two billion hours of unpaid overtime, worth £29.2billion to the economy and equivalent to a million extra jobs.
While the TUC recognises that reducing the amount of unpaid overtime would not translate precisely into extra jobs, union leaders say persistent and excessive hours of unpaid overtime are holding back job creation and affecting the well-being of workers, with some employers forcing staff to work extremely long hours that damage their health.
TUC Regional Secretary Kevin Rowan said: “Hundreds of thousands of workers across the North East are giving the economy a huge hidden boost by putting in a million hours of unpaid overtime.
“This heroic contribution is too often ignored so we hope employers congratulate staff for their efforts on Work Your Proper Hours Day this year.
“But while many of the extra unpaid hours worked could easily be reduced by changing work practices and ending the UK’s culture of pointless presenteeism, a small number of employers are exploiting staff by regularly forcing them to do excessive amounts of extra work for no extra pay.
“This attitude is not only bad for workers’ health, it’s bad for the economy too as it reduces productivity and holds back job creation.
“No one wants to see us to become a nation of clock-watchers. But a more sensible and grown-up attitude to working time could cut out needless unpaid hours and help more people into work.”