Nursery teachers work five hours a week for free

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Education professionals are among those most likely to work unpaid overtime hours, according to analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to mark the ninth annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.


More than 11,500 pre-primary education teachers (nursery teachers in schools) worked an average of five hours overtime a week in 2012. This amounts just under half (48.7 per cent) of all nursery teachers in schools in total and is worth over £67m in terms of extra hours of work.

A regional breakdown shows that Londoners are the most likely to do most unpaid overtime, with over one in four workers regularly putting in extra unpaid shifts.

The TUC believes that while a lot of unpaid overtime is down to heavy workloads, which employers need to manage better, much of it is also down to pointless presenteeism – with staff judged on the hours spent at their desk rather than the work they do.

This workplace culture, as well as heightened fears about job security, often means that staff feel unable to leave on time, even if their work is complete.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said, ‘Millions of UK workers go above and beyond the call of duty each year to ensure their businesses and organisations stay afloat. This has especially been the case in the public sector where, in the face of large scale job cuts, the remaining staff have had to put in even more unpaid overtime.

'While most staff don’t mind doing a few extra hours, working time needs to be properly managed or excessive hours can become a drag on the business. Employers shouldn’t be pressurising their staff into doing more for less. A significant part of the nearly two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked every year could be wiped out by smarter management practices, such as focusing on the work staff actually do rather than the time spent at their desks.

'Where employees regularly have excessive workloads, businesses should be considering whether a few more members of staff might be able to help make everyone less stressed and more productive. A long hours culture is bad for workers’ health and their family life- whether the hours are paid or not.’

The TUC launched Work Your Proper Hours day in 2005, which this year was held on 1 March.

It is designed to raise awareness for the workers who work unpaid overtime and encourages bosses to give their workers a proper lunch break and to allow them to leave at their work places on time.  

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said, ‘It comes as no surprise that teachers work more hours in unpaid overtime than almost any other workers. A teacher’s commitment to their job is unquestionable, yet Government continues its onslaught of attacks on a profession which is manifestly overworked.

‘Issues of pay, pensions, punitive Ofsted inspection and a raft of accountability and assessment measures are making teachers jobs increasingly stressful. Instead of criticism, the Government should be praising and supporting a profession which for little reward is one of the hardest working in the country.’

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