Unpaid overtime statistics 2023


Research into unpaid overtime by HR software provider Ciphr suggests that around half (49%) of UK employees work out of hours for free every week.

The findings from Ciphr’s survey of 1,000 UK workers revealed that, over a typical week, twice the number of people put in unpaid overtime than paid overtime. Men that work unpaid overtime average around 3.3 extra hours a week, while women average 2.9 extra hours a week.

Which workers are putting in the most unpaid overtime?

Three hours of unpaid overtime a week can add up over a year. Assuming those three hours are worked every single week (excluding holidays), by the end of the year full-time employees could have clocked up an extra 139 hours and 12 minutes – that’s the equivalent of working 18 additional days for free*.

Key stats:

  • More employees work unpaid overtime than paid overtime (49% vs 23%)
  • A greater proportion of hybrid employees (58%) work unpaid overtime than remote workers (51%) or those that are workplace-based (42%)
  • Remote workers work the most unpaid overtime, averaging 212 minutes (or 3.5 hours) per week
  • Managers doing unpaid overtime clock up around 3.9 hours extra a week
  • Employees aged 35-44 years are the most likely to work unpaid overtime
  • Employees aged 25-34 years work the most unpaid overtime, averaging 210 minutes (or 3.5 hours) per week


*calculation is based on a 7.5 hour working day, and assumes 5.6 weeks statutory holiday.

Are you working too much unpaid overtime?

Use Ciphr's unpaid hours calculator to work out how many extra days you're working unpaid for your employer over the year.

Average weekly time spent doing unpaid overtime

Nearly half (49%) of UK workers say they do unpaid overtime. On average, they work 184 minutes (just over three hours) extra a week unpaid.

Managers reportedly do the most unpaid overtime, with those in senior management roles averaging 4.1 hours a week, compared to 2.7 hours a week for non-management staff.

The chart below shows the average number of minutes that different groups of workers (segmented by age, job role, and working model) typically spend doing unpaid work for their employer per week:

Which industries work the most unpaid overtime?

Working unpaid overtime appears to be more common than working paid overtime across most industries in the UK. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, less than one in four (23%) reported being paid for working additional hours.

  • People working in legal services and education put in the most unpaid overtime – at around four hours a week
  • Around two-fifths of people employed in construction, education, IT & software, and marketing, advertising & sales, regularly work unpaid hours
  • 52% of hospitality and food service workers, and 35% of retail workers, receive overtime pay, compared to just 9% of those working in education

Who is skipping their lunch breaks?

Working through lunch appears to be one of the most common ways that employees end up working unpaid overtime.

Generally, women appear more likely than men to skip some of their lunch break. Over a quarter (27%) of female employees, compared to a fifth (19%) of male employees, admitted to not taking their full lunch break on most days of the week.

The people most likely to have reported working through some (or all) of their lunch breaks, however, are those who work unpaid overtime. Just one in seven (13%) surveyed employees who work three hours (or more) in unpaid overtime a week said that they took their full lunch break every day of the week.

Unpaid hours = lost wages

Working three hours of unpaid overtime over a week (around 35 minutes a day for full-time workers) might not seem much at the time. But, it could add up to thousands of pounds if those three hours are worked every week.

A full-time worker, on £33,000 a year, who puts in three hours extra unpaid every working week (equivalent to working 139.2 extra hours a year) could be losing out on as much as £2,356† a year through doing unpaid overtime. For those earning over the UK's average salary of £33,000, the value of their unpaid hours will add up to even more.

The chart below shows the average annual value of unpaid overtime worked by different groups of full-time employees (all calculations were made using Ciphr's unpaid overtime calculator):

†calculation is based on a 37.5 hour working week, and assumes 5.6 weeks statutory holiday.

Do you work unpaid overtime regularly?

Use Ciphr's unpaid overtime calculator to work out how much those extra hours could be worth in lost income over the year.

Why do people work unpaid overtime?

A previously unreleased 2022 survey by Ciphr found that many people who regularly work unpaid overtime don’t always plan to.

Of those employees who reported working unpaid overtime regularly (45% of the 1,006 people surveyed in May 2022) the main reasons for doing so were:

  • It 'just happens' (29%)
  • They want to keep on top of their workload (29%)
  • They want to finish what they've been working on (26%)
  • They have an unmanageable workload (24%)
  • They feel overworked due to being understaffed or under-resourced (18%)


Ciphr conducted an online survey (in June 2023) of 1,000 UK adults working at organisations with at least 26 employees. It featured a range of questions on various employment topics. The survey is unweighted, and as such is only a snapshot of the working age population.

Nearly half (48%) of survey respondents are employed by organisations with 1,001+ employees, a fifth (21%) have 251 to 1,000 employees, and nearly a third (31%) have 26 to 250 employees.

Questions asked in the survey included: Over an average week, how much extra (unpaid) work do you usually do for your employer? (please include any time spent working through breaks and before / after your contracted hours of work).

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