Journalists work two months for free every year

Extra work: 7.7 hours a week free

Journalists effectively work for free until 28 February each year – according to the TUC.

It says journalists do on average 7.7 hours a week of unpaid overtime.

Corporate managers and senior officials top the TUC’s overtime league with 12.5 hours, followed by teachers (12 hours) and farming managers (11.1).

To highlight the issue, it has designated Friday as “Work Your Proper Hours Day” as it is the day of the year when the average person doing unpaid overtime stops “working for free” and starts getting paid.

According to the TUC, five million people in the UK do unpaid overtime, giving employers £23bn of free work every year.

NUJ newspapers organiser Barry Fitzpatrick said: “Employers are totally dependent on the goodwill of journalists and the fact that nearly all of them work excessive hours.

“If you look at it from a regional press point of view, it’s made even worse by the low pay – it’s one thing to pay low pay for normal hours; it’s even more serious if it’s low pay for excessive hours. We deal with a number of stress cases and there are signs employers are being aggressive when it comes to sickness absence. A lot of it is caused by the kind of hours people do.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Journalism and broadcasting is a long-hours world and that’s why we’re saying that for one day a year people should work their proper hours. They should come in on time, take their proper lunch break and leave when they are meant to, preferably on their way to somewhere where their boss will buy them a coffee or a cocktail.”

The TUC overtime survey was based on information in the September 2003 Labour Force Survey.

By Dominic Ponsford

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