Man working on his laptop

All comments have been made by Connor Campbell, finance expert at NerdWallet:

With the news that another 100 UK companies are to implement a permanent four-day working week, the idea of the Monday-Friday 9-5 grind is becoming a thing of the past. But this bigger focus on a work/life balance isn’t necessarily translating to day-to-day life.

It’s previously been proven that British workers put in some of the longest weekly hours at work, and the latest figures from the ONS have backed that up. Despite terms such as quiet quitting (the idea that you do the bare minimum at work) gaining traction, the UK is still a nation of over workers.

According to the figures, which look at paid working hours, we clock up an extra 163 hours per year on top of our contracted full-time hours. That’s equivalent to more than 22 days of extra work every year – close to one full month’s overtime.

A couple of hours here and there may not feel like much at the time, but it all adds up, and can mean we’re at risk of burning out and getting work fatigue. However, the most worrying thing is this is also only paid overtime, and doesn’t include those unpaid hours spent on the job. Therefore, overtime figures are likely to be much higher.

The data shows that the whole UK is guilty of overworking, and some regions are worse than others. Those in Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, and the Humber and Wales take the top spot when it comes to overtime, racking up an additional 24 days. Not far behind are those in the West Midlands, who spend an extra 23 days working.

At the opposite end of the scale, workers in the South West seemingly have the best work/life balance in the UK, but they do still clock in the hours: 143 hours to be exact, which still works out at 19 days per year.

Men tend to do more overtime than women – just under 26 days per year, as opposed to just over 17.5 days per year for women. And although this is true for every region in the UK, men in the South East work the least extra hours, with 21.3 additional days per year to their name, while men in Yorkshire and the Humber clock in more than 30 days in overtime per year. That’s a full calendar month every year.

Women in Wales top the list for the most hours of overtime every year for females. Their counterparts in Scotland, however, knock off earlier, with fewer than 14.5 days in overtime over the course of the year.

All in all, this overtime for the average worker, added on to contractual hours, means full time workers are clocking in just under 1,922 hours per year – over 160 hours more than they’re contracted. And despite workers getting paid for this, it can’t continue on this scale.

The four day week trial, which has proven to be successful so far, could go some way to reducing the amount of hours Brits work, specifically overtime, but it’s down to employers to make sure workloads reduce in-line with working hours, and that employees are able to really make the most of this new way of working.

For more information about NerdWallet, visit: www.nerdwallet.com/uk/business

Connor-CampbellAbout the author

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent, while he has appeared on ITV News and LBC Radio.

Since joining NerdWallet in July 2021, he has expanded his expertise in the business sector, providing commentary on the rise in National Insurance, the most pronounced fears SMEs have going into 2022/23, and the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Methodology

The data is pulled from the ONS. pre Covid is defined as 2014-2019 and includes all the data they have. Some data is missing but is included in the research. Post Covid is defined as 2021. 2020 was left out of this dataset due to the pandemic being at its peak.

Calculations have been made based on a 7.5 working day, and a 47 week working year. The median hours were used across the dataset.

All data is based on full time working hours.