'Burnout Britain' works £23bn free overtime a year

TUC says more than half of employees find it difficult to cope with the pressure of their jobs and millions believe that it harms their home life
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The Independent Online

Britons are working £23bn worth of unpaid overtime every year and the private lives of millions are being seriously affected by their jobs.

Britons are working £23bn worth of unpaid overtime every year and the private lives of millions are being seriously affected by their jobs.

Although 85 per cent of full-time workers enjoy their jobs, more than half say they find it difficult to cope with the pressure, a BRMB poll for the Trades Union Congress found.

Released on the first day of the TUC's annual conference, the survey indicated that of a working population of 26 million, more than 12 million employees believed their jobs made them irritable and bad-tempered at home, and some 4 million will have suffered damage to their personal relationships.

Around 6 million workers feel their bosses do not know how to get the best out of them and 5.5 million have superiors who do not have time to manage their staff properly.

John Monks, the TUC general secretary, told the conference in Glasgow, that the figures confirmed the country's status as "burn-out Britain".

The Government should tackle the culture of long hours through sensible regulation and employers should "stop whingeing" about red tape, he said. "The Government should be robust in the face of employer opposition to modest improvements in working conditions. They should promote the benefits of necessary regulation and point out the dangers - and costs - of a lack of regulation."

Mr Monks said people should "work smarter, not longer" to achieve a better balance between work and family life. "Employers should stop whingeing about the wrong things and start worrying about the right ones. I say to the [Confederation of British Industry] and to others - less complaining, more co-operating."

The British Chambers of Commerce had complained that new parental leave provisions would cost £28m a year. That figure was dwarfed by the £23bn a year of unpaid overtime worked by Britons.

The TUC urged ministers to toughen up a range of employment laws. New legislation on union recognition did not go far enough and some of its provisions were biased against unions, delegates decided.

Recognition should be awarded to unions on the basis of a simple majority vote in the workplace. Under the current law, any majority must represent 40 per cent of the relevant workforce. The law should also be extended to include firms with fewer than 21 employees, which employ five million workers.

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