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UK workers do 19m free overtime each month

An embedded culture of overwork and unpaid overtime is severely impacting businesses and workers across the UK, according to new research released today by Protime UK.

The study, which surveyed 2,000 UK employees, revealed that excessive workloads and unrealistic managerial expectations are creating a work environment detrimental to employee motivation, productivity, retention, and overall business performance.

A staggering 54 percent of UK employees report working between half a day and four days of unpaid overtime each month, amounting to 19 million days of uncompensated labour annually. The findings also indicate that one in five employees plans to leave their current job within the next six months to escape the pressures of overwork. Additionally, nearly half (49%) refuse to take on extra work, and 42 percent avoid pursuing management responsibilities due to the same issue.


Hybrid Workers More Vulnerable: 33 percent of employees are more likely to work additional unpaid hours when working from home.

Unrealistic Workloads: 28 percent of respondents report being unable to complete their job within regular working hours, leading to extended workdays.

Inadequate Managerial Support: 27 percent of employees believe managers should ensure work is more evenly distributed, while 20 percent find the work delegated to them unrealistic given the available time.

Business Performance and Engagement: 38 percent of workers feel less productive, with 29 percent noting a decline in work quality. Additionally, 28 percent report that overwork harms their relationship with their manager.

Employee Wellbeing: 53 percent experience increased stress and anxiety, 41 percent feel burnout, and 25 percent forego holidays due to overwork.


Simon Garrity, Country Manager for Protime UK, commented on the research: “The UK’s widespread culture of overwork is a ticking time bomb that business and HR leaders can’t afford to ignore. Excessive workloads and unrealistic expectations are burning employees out, killing motivation and productivity, and driving away top talent from organisations.

Our data reveals a vicious cycle for employees, as lack of manager support and boundaries enables overwork, which in turn harms well-being, retention and the bottom line.

It is important for employers to understand unpaid work and missed holidays are not a sign of dedication; they are symptoms of a system which has to work better. It is only by creating a culture that respects employee time, prioritises workload management, and encourages a healthy work-life balance that businesses can reap the benefits of a happier, more productive workforce.”

This research underscores the urgent need for a cultural shift in UK workplaces, emphasising the importance of balanced workloads and robust managerial support to foster a more sustainable and productive work environment.



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