IT staff overworked and underpaid

IT workers do more unpaid overtime a year than the national average, according to research carried out by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

It found that one in three IT professionals were working an average of 34 days unpaid overtime last year, or the equivalent of six hours a week.

It calculated overall that that 5.24 million people across the UK worked an average of seven hours six minutes unpaid overtime a week or 41 days a year in 2008, which was the highest number since records began in 1992. The previous record was five million in 2001.

The survey results showed that 33.8 per cent of UK workers overall suffer unpaid overtime, up 1.5 per cent on last year.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary stated that the recession was bringing new pressure for people to work unpaid overtime, and even more IT professionals were doing unpaid overtime than last year.

"But not all unpaid overtime is useful work helping to overcome the recession," he said. "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."

The national trade union centre carried out its research to highlight its annual "Work Your Proper Hours Day" initiative, which took place last week.

Although the day was described as "light hearted" by the TUC, it pointed out that excessively working long hours still need to be addressed in UK workplaces, especially in a downturn, as it can lead to stress and burn out, as well as lower staff and business productivity levels.

Professor Cooper, professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, added that many IT employees also feel obliged to put more hours into their work, in order to prove to the boss that they are committed and indispensable, at the same time as internet technologies were encouraging follow-the-sun' working patterns.

"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," he added.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.