Unpaid overtime has soared since the beginning of the pandemic: Survey


The amount of unpaid overtime that workers around the world are doing has soared in the past year, with the average amount of “free time” worked increasing by almost two hours per person per week since Covid-19 hit, reveals a new study.

The report by the ADP Research Institute, ‘People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View’ finds that globally, the average amount of free overtime being worked each week is now 9.2 hours per person – up from 7.3 hours pre-pandemic. This can range from working over breaks and starting early or staying late, to regularly putting in extra work for no additional pay.

The survey has responses from more than 32,000 workers in 17 countries.

One in ten workers (10%) globally are now giving away in excess of 20 hours per week for free to their employers – a proportion that has doubled in the last year from one in twenty (5%) before the pandemic. Given the demanding nature of their jobs, essential workers are putting in more unpaid overtime than non-essential workers – at 10.1 hours per week on average, compared to 8.1 hours.

The report explores whether the effects of the pandemic have impacted employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

In India, workers believe that they work an extra 11.1 hours per week for free. More than 82% of the respondents surveyed in India believe they have been underpaid at some point in time. Additionally, close to 40% of the respondents are working longer hours during normal working weeks and almost 39% are increasing efforts to network and develop contacts within the organisation.

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The pandemic has also made individuals more digitally savvy and close to 50% of the respondents started using mobile applications or tools to manage their finances. Over half (52%) of the respondents also aim at becoming certified in new technologies to be successful in new jobs that will be created due to the pandemic.

“Workers are now routinely clocking up what amounts to more than a working day’s-worth of unpaid overtime every single week. The arrival of Covid-19 has spurred many people to work harder than ever.

Essential workers may have been struggling to keep up with the extra workload the pandemic has created,” said Rahul Goyal, managing director – India and South East Asia, ADP.

“Non-essential workers may be going the extra mile due to concerns about their job security, to compensate when colleagues have lost their jobs, or because the boundaries between work and home life have been blurred when working remotely,” Goyal said.

Globally, those working from home (WFH) estimate they are putting in more unpaid overtime than those based in the workplace or on-site, at 9.4 hours per week on average, compared to 8.7 hours. However, those taking a hybrid approach, combining home working for part of the week and on-site working the rest of the time, believe they are doing the most of all, at 9.8 hours.

Despite the adjustments of working away from the office, those working remotely are no more likely than their colleagues on-site to report that maintaining productivity is a major challenge. Indeed, they are marginally less likely to say so, at 10% compared to 13%. In fact, those adopting hybrid working arrangements find maintaining productivity most challenging of all (15% describe it as a major challenge).

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