Workers are feeling the effects of longer working days and unpaid overtime over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research.
A new study by law firm Wright Hassall found that the average employee is working nine or more hours of overtime in any given week, compared with just three or more hours before the start of the pandemic.
More than half (52%) are doing so without being paid. Forty-eight per cent of those surveyed said the pandemic was the primary cause of extended hours, and 41% said they were working longer hours to support their company during an extremely challenging time.
The study suggests that remote working has had a significant impact, with 34% struggling to log off on time and 29% feeling under pressure to perform due to a lack of job security.
This trend of working longer hours unpaid is having an adverse affect on workers’ loyalty, with nearly 28% saying it has impacted their future commitment to the company, and 25% saying they just want a better work-life balance.
Unpaid overtime is also having a knock-on effect in terms of workers’ mental health, with as many as 34% saying they feel more anxious, 31% feeling more stressed and 25% saying they struggle to switch off.
The research also suggests workers are not feeling supported by their employers, with 49% saying their employer doesn’t offer any form of mental health support. And of those that do, 23% of workers say the support is inadequate and 19% are unaware of how to access it.
Tina Chander, head of employment law at Wright Hassall, said: “Not only has lockdown had a significant impact on businesses that are struggling financially, but it has also had an impact on their employees, many of whom are working extended hours trying to keep the business afloat.
“It can be emotionally and physically draining to work extra hours for no additional pay, and even more concerning if you’re not receiving the right level of support from your employer when overtime starts to affect your mental health. It’s important to raise any concerns with HR or your supervisor, to ensure you don’t suffer in silence.”