LETTER : Extra work time remains hidden

From Mr John Monks

Sir: Paul Wallace's article ("Bigger rises for better-off widen the earnings gap," 29 September) reports from the New Earnings Survey on hours worked by non-manual workers, including those in professional and managerial jobs. The NES is based on employers' reports of contracted hours, including paid overtime. This captures most of the excessive hours worked by blue- collar workers. However the survey severely underestimates the hours many non-manual workers work.

This is because many non-manuals - especially those in managerial and professional jobs - do not get paid overtime but find it impossible to get the job done within their contracted hours.

The Central Statistical Office's Labour Force Survey, which asks individuals how many hours they work, found in spring 1994 that 34 per cent of full- time non-manual employees reported working 45 hours or more a week. The April 1994 New Earnings Survey showed that employers reported only 5 per cent worked these very long hours. The difference is accounted for by people working beyond their contracted hours without extra pay.

These trends can only widen further the gap between the employment conditions of most UK workers and workers in the rest of Europe.

Yours sincerely,

John Monks

General Secretary, TUC

London, WC1

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