Quarter of workers doing unpaid overtime

One in ten fear for their jobs


challenges of working at a...

Anxious workers are putting in unpaid overtime for fear of losing their jobs, a new survey shows.

More than a quarter of people questioned by health insurer AXA PPP said they regularly stayed late, putting in an average of seven extra hours per week.

As for the reasons, 40 per cent said they did so to cope with a too-heavy workload, 20 per cent blamed it on pressure from workmates and managers and 11 per cent said they were worried about losing their job. More than a third said they felt guilty if they left work on time.

"It's concerning to see so many people working extra hours due to pressures in their workplace. If a business encourages a culture of long hours where workers feel they need to stay late, they may be doing themselves a disservice," says AXA PPP healthcare's director of psychological services, Dr Mark Winwood.

"Protracted working hours can dent an employee's productivity and, in some cases, even lead to burnout. This is an issue employers would be wise to address."

A study four years ago by researchers from University College London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that working overtime brings a 60 percent increase in heart-related illness such as non-fatal heart attacks and angina in those who work ten hours a day.

Employers should take note, says Winwood."Employers have a legal duty of care to safeguard employee health and wellbeing and ideally, as a part of this, they should have a clear and reasonable policy on working hours and overtime – and ensure that it's adhered to. They should also invest in ensuring that staff know what support services are available to help them if they are struggling to manage the pressures in their lives, whether at work or at home – for example, confidential counselling helplines," he says.

"If not, they may find themselves on the receiving end of a work-related personal injury claim and/or up before an employment tribunal."

But employees are still feeling under pressure in the workplace, according to the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Last year, it found that Brits felt more insecure and pressured at work than at any time in the last twenty years.