Overtime on the Tyne: North East hardest working region

Where are people working the most unpaid overtime - and why do they do it?

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Pollution levels

People in the North East have been revealed as the hardest workers in the UK by a new survey. Researchers found that they put in more overtime for their boss than people anywhere else in the country - at an average of 13.5 hours a week. It may come as a blow to any Londoners who wear their working hours as a badge of pride, but these figures are nothing to celebrate.

The research done for Lottoland.co.uk, interviewed over 2,500 full-time employees about their working patterns - including any work they did in the evenings and on the weekend. The North East came out as the most hardworking, with 13.5 hours of overtime a week, followed by Scotland with 12.5 hours and London with 11 hours.

The rest of the top ten were made up of the South East with 10 hours a week, the East Midlands at 9.5 hours, the East of England at 9 hours, West Midlands with 8.5 hours, North West with 8 hours, South West with 7.5 hours and Northern Ireland where people are working 7.5 hours of extra unpaid overtime a week.

Alarmingly, across the vast majority of the country, people are working more than the equivalent of an extra day a week - without pay. And while some may be doing it for the love of the job, there's every sign that a large number of them aren't. In fact the same survey asked about job satisfaction, and a third of people said they unhappy in their current job.

Why?

It's likely, therefore, that this unpaid overtime is partly the result of organisations cutting costs and reducing the workforce, so that people have no choice but to work longer in order to get the work done. This was something uncovered by a survey for AXA PPP last year, in which having too much work was the most common reason given for working late - by 40% of people.

There's also the likelihood that they are concerned about their future, and so are keen to demonstrate their commitment to the role. This is reflected in the fact that although a third of people said they were unhappy in their job - 78% were wary about looking for an alternative position in the current economic climate.

Dan Hawkins, spokesperson for Lottoland.co.uk, said: "Perhaps the fact that jobs are well-documented to be harder to secure in the North of England gives those working there a bigger incentive to work the extra hours to ensure their job role is secure."

Terrible idea

Working longer hours tends to be bad for your health. The longer people work, the more likely they are to lower the effectiveness of their immune system, and become susceptible to illness. There's also the risk to their mental health and that they start to suffer as a result of stress.

And while it may seem like a freebie for the businesses concerned, there are hidden costs to companies in longer working hours too. Clearly it can mean more sickness absence - and pay.

Studies also show that working protracted hours tends to dent your productivity - so the longer you stay after work, the less productive you get. It means businesses are being staffed by aimless and exhausted staff.

As TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady recently said: "Bosses who encourage long hours in the office should re-think their approach as stressed, over-worked staff are often unhappy and less productive."

But what do you think? Do you work unpaid overtime? And are you worried about it? Let us know in the comments.

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