Office workers do £3,359 of unpaid overtime a year

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Weekend overtime for office workers

Research conducted for Boundless has found that ‘the workend’ is the new weekend, with 65% of office workers spending Saturdays or Sundays working

Do you find yourself opening up the laptop or checking emails on your phone at the weekend? You’re not alone. Instead of making the most of their weekends, 65% of UK office workers are finding that their working week is creeping into their free time, according to a recent survey.

The research, conducted on behalf of Boundless, found that workers feel they have to work at the weekends, and it’s not just the odd hour on a Saturday morning…

Overworked and underpaid

One in 10 workers said they have worked a third of all weekends in the past six months. What’s more, they could be earning £3,359 more per year if they were paid for the extra work they’re doing at weekends.

Of the 2,000 people asked, the vast majority had worked at least one weekend in the last six months, with more than a quarter of those admitting to working almost a full day on a Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, these workers don't think they are being paid enough, with 60% of public sector workers saying their pay is too low and 46% of private sector workers saying the same thing.

Driving force

Workers gave different reasons for giving up their free time to work at weekends, revealing a disparity in motivations for public and private sector employees.

While a third of public sector workers said they had to work at weekends to get the job done due to understaffing, only a quarter of workers in the private sector gave that as a reason. Twice as many people in the private sector than the public sector said they were motivated to work weekends in order to climb the career ladder.

Not enough hours in the day

Other explanations that people gave included pressure from their boss, which was the reason for half of the respondents. Nearly a quarter said that their boss didn’t expect them to work at the weekend, but if they weren’t on top of things on Monday their boss wouldn’t be happy. More than half felt their boss did have an expectation of them to work over the weekend.

Overall, almost half of all respondents said working weekends was the only way they could get their job done properly and a third said that Monday was a complete nightmare if they didn’t.

When looking at the type of work completed at the weekends, emails were the main culprit, with checking and responding to email coming out as the two top tasks, with around half of respondents in their inbox at weekends.

The weekend starts here

Maybe the weekend starts early on Fridays for some, but on average people work an additional two hours on a Friday evening, with nearly a third of all workers staying in the office for three to six hours past home time on a Friday.

Despite their best efforts, however, many people said they still couldn’t relax at the weekends, even if they worked on Friday evenings, meaning they don’t enjoy their free time either.

"All this overtime at the weekends puts a huge strain on people’s work-life balance,” says James Robertson, head of marketing at Boundless. “Our research showed that that 46% of public sector workers feel like their work-life balance is all wrong.

“It is crucial that people maximise their spare time and make the most of it, or we risk work dominating our lives. A good work-life balance is important for everyone.”


Boundless can help with the ‘life’ part of your work-life balance, with ideas and discounts on amazing things to do in your spare time. Check out our ‘do more’ section for inspiration. 

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