IT workers giving away free time

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IT workers giving away free time

A third of UK IT professionals are doing unpaid overtime – the equivalent of 34 days free work every year, according to trade union body the TUC.

The figures are based on a survey carried out in Autumn 2008 – before many IT departments faced further cost cuts and lay-offs as a result of the recession. The amount of overtime increased by 1.2 per cent on the previous year.

Excessive long hours need to be addressed in UK workplaces, especially in a downturn, as it can lead to stress and burn out, which lowers productivity, said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

“The recession is bringing new pressure for people to work unpaid overtime, and even more IT professionals are doing unpaid overtime than last year,” he said.

“But not all unpaid overtime is useful work helping to overcome the recession. When people understandably fear for their jobs employers still have a responsibility to organise work properly and ensure their workplaces don’t get gripped by a long hours culture.”

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said the economic downturn affects people’s working attitudes.

“During a recession, we must all be fully committed to our colleagues and there is more pressure to work longer hours in order to get the job done. Many employees also feel obliged to put more hours into their work, in order to prove to the boss that they are committed and indispensable,” he said.

“However, consistently working long hours is likely to affect your health adversely as well as your productivity. A good work-life balance, which offers quality time at home, is vitally important to both the health of the employee and to the long-term health of their company or organisation.”

According to the TUC, the proportion of employees in all professions doing unpaid overtime has been stable since last year, with around five million workers giving away 41 days of free overtime a year.
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