The Hours Stolen To Overtime During The Pandemic

Among the challenges presented by working from home, or working flexibly, over the last 18 months, the etiquette around logging off is one of the trickier ones to navigate. For those of us still working from home some of the time, the absence of a commute can turn up the pressure to work beyond the standard 9-5.
Whether your workplace has been struggling or not, working overtime has felt like an employer expectation for many. And an extra half hour here and there is easy to give up when convinced it's for the sake of the business.
But as it turns out, for all of our misguided loyalty, we're actually just missing out — by a lot. According to a report by the ADP Research Institute’s People at Work 2021, the amount of unpaid overtime that UK employees are doing has jumped to an average of eight hours per week during the pandemic. One in four UK workers is giving away more than 10 hours per week for free, up from one in five pre-pandemic.
This may not sound like a lot, but when you add it all up, it totals in excess of £8,000 annually per employee in overtime, and across the working population, £219bn a year in free labour.
"Arriving at work early, staying late, working through breaks, working nights and weekends, taking calls or emails out of hours — there are a host of ways employers steal time from their employees," explains Dan Nahum, an economist at the Centre for Future Work in Australia.
"COVID-19 has made the situation worse, indicating work-from-home does not necessarily improve work-life in favour of employees. Instead, we're seeing further incursion of work into people’s personal time and their privacy," he says. "In many cases, it's making it easier for employers to undercut minimum standards around hours, overtime, and penalty rates."