Have you worked more hours than you’re paid for?

Do you often work more hours than you’re paid for? If so, you’re not alone.

Each year more than five million people – including many dedicated public servants – work an average of almost eight hours a week in unpaid overtime, according to research published today by the TUC. If everyone who worked unpaid overtime was paid the average wage for those hours, that’d add up to over £30 billion each year.

That’s a lot of unpaid work and a lot of money missing from wage packets.

The research has been released on the 12th annual “Work Your Proper Hours Day”, which marks the point at which the average worker doing unpaid overtime would start getting paid if they worked all their unpaid hours from the beginning of the year.

Spending cuts have meant redundancies and recruitment freezes across the public sector. This means those who remain are overstretched and spread ever more thinly, as they valiantly try to cover the work of colleagues who have either been made redundant or not replaced.

It will come as no surprise to council, NHS, school or police staff that they are contributing more than their fair share of unpaid overtime. The recent NHS staff survey showed that nearly three quarters of health workers regularly work beyond their contracted hours for free.

This is no way to run public services, and with no respite in the cuts, staff will continue to bear the brunt. With no light at the end of the tunnel, people are likely to start voting with their feet, and opting for jobs and careers beyond the public sector. Then it will be the people who rely on essential public services who suffer.

So if you’re reading this, you’re still at work and you’ve already worked all the hours you’re paid for – turn off your computer and go home!