Working hours on the increase - TUC

THE long hours working culture is on the increase in the East of England, according to the latest Labour Force Survey.The TUC analysis, published yesterday , revealed one in seven workers in the region, or 14.

THE long hours working culture is on the increase in the East of England, according to the latest Labour Force Survey.

The TUC analysis, published yesterday , revealed one in seven workers in the region, or 14.6% of the working population, were regularly putting in more than 48 hours a week.

A total of 339,000 people in the east now work long hours, up 18,000 on last year, making it one of the worst regions for long hours.

The trend reverses a 10-year decline in those working over 48 hours.


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Across the UK, 93,000 more people were working more than 48 hours a week than just a year ago, the survey found, taking the total to three and a quarter million, or 13.1% of the population.

The TUC says a lack of enforcement means that the employment right protecting people from an average working week of more than 48 hours unless they opt out of the working time rules is being breached.

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The incidence of long hours working in the East of England is now the third worst of any part of Britain, with the worst being London with 16.1% followed by the south east, with 14.8%.

East of England TUC regional secretary Megan Dobney described the numbers as “very disturbing”.

“They suggest that the slow, but at least steady, decline in those working more than 48 hours a week has become to an end,” she said.

“Many employers recognise that overworked staff are unproductive by introducing more flexibility and better work-life balance, often under union pressure.

“But it now looks as if their efforts are being undone by those who don't care about long hours. 48 hours is six eight-hour days - more than enough for anyone.

“There is undoubted abuse of the law, but employers know they can get away with it because it is rarely enforced. Neither the Health and Safety Executive nor local authorities who share responsibility for enforcement have the resources to implement the law.”

The TUC said the official figures underestimated long hours working as the sample on which it is based is unlikely to include an appropriate proportion of migrant workers and excludes those who live at their place of work, such as hotel or care staff who work long hours.

Under Europe's working time regulations, workers are protected from working more than an average 48-hour week, but in the UK, unlike other EU countries, all workers can opt out of this protection.

The TUC claims this is widely abused, and two thirds are not asked to opt out before they are expected to work more than 48 hours, while a quarter of those who sign are given no real choice.

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