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Annie Hayes

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Soaring working hours is “disturbing”

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber has dubbed an increase in working hours as “disturbing”.

According to the TUC, more than one in eight work more than 48 hours each week, with as many as one in six Londoners putting in 48 hours plus.

The TUC says the findings point to a lack of enforcement of the rules that protect workers against an average working week of no more than 48 hours, unless they opt out of the working time rules.

The latest Labour Force Survey shows that 93,000 more people now work more than 48 hours a week, taking the total to almost three and a quarter million. This is a rise to 13.1 per cent up from 12.8 per cent last year.

The biggest rises are in the south east, with an increase of 28,000 to 525,000, and London an increase of 25,000 to 481,000.

In Wales it rose by 1.3 per cent, to 12.2 per cent.

Barber said: “These are very disturbing numbers. No-one should forget that 48 hours is six eight-hour days – more than enough for anyone every week. There is undoubted abuse of the law, but employers know they can get away with it because it is rarely enforced.”

He added: “Neither the Health and Safety Executive nor local authorities who share responsibility for enforcement have the resources to implement the law. And the government knows that employers can abuse the opt-out as ministers consulted on ways to close loopholes in 2004, but have yet to bring forward any concrete proposals for change. The current discussions on how best to protect vulnerable workers and enforce existing rights must include working time rights and closing the loopholes that make a voluntary opt-out a joke.”

According to the TUC, the opt-out clause is widely abused with two-thirds not even asked to opt out before they are expected to work in excess of the 48 hours and a quarter of those who signed up not given any real choice about opting out.

One Response

  1. Above all, this is an inefficient way of working
    I also find the trend towards working long hours concerning and this seems to be the result of money-saving policies by many employers.

    Of course, businesses need to make a profit, but some staff cuts are counter-productive.

    My work as a stress management specialist means I constantly see people who are overworked and under pressure and who are making themselves ill due to these issues.

    Number 1, I think employers need to recognise that people working without breaks or for long hours on a regular basis are not working at their optimum and therefore affect productivity adversely.

    Number 2, I think employees need to stop running scared and get their lives into balance by working in a healthy and productive way for them. Many people I come across are even afraid to take time off to come and see me to get the help they need or are afraid to admit that they are feeling unell and unhappy, because they think they might lose their jobs or that their careers will be badly affected.

    In my opinion, it’s time employers and employees worked together to work out a way where everyone has their lives in balance and that way, everyone will work more efficiently and happily. The bottom line results will speak for themselves.

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Annie Hayes

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