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Six Days a Week: Half of Brits Work Overtime

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 30 Jun 2009 | 9:21 AM ET

While workers in the rest of Europe are accepting to work four day weeks or part-time, or take periods of semi-paid leave, employees in Britain have been working six-day weeks to keep their jobs, according to a survey out Tuesday.

Fifty percent of UK staff were working overtime since the financial crisis began to keep their jobs, according to BT Business.

"These findings reflect the length that employees are willing to go to, to keep Britain's economy afloat," Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said in the report.

More than a third of the 4,000 Britons interviewed felt compelled to work over their contracted hours every week, with most working an average of 7 extra hours per week — the equivalent of an extra day — and collectively putting £200 million ($332 million) in extra hours into the UK economy each week, according to BT's report.

The report also showed a clear gender split, with men more likely to be putting in the extra hours.

Another of the reasons for the increase in hours is the decrease in manpower as colleagues lost their jobs and companies refocused on improving customer service, the survey said.

But more than 40 percent of the respondents said the situation was being exacerbated by time being wasted in the workplace because staff are not fully qualified for the shoes they have to fill, the report found.

"Employers should look to match these efforts by equipping staff with what they need to become more efficient," Murphy said.

Sharon Lorimer

The research also showed a decline in laughter in the workplace compared to a year ago due to greater pressure on staff to perform. Many employees favored the option of working flexitime.

Sixty percent of the respondents felt lucky to have a job, according to the report. And more than a third of those surveyed said they turned up earlier for work.

Other interesting findings were that one in ten people said they would consider a slight pay cut to keep one of their colleagues from being fired and that one third of people surveyed were concerned they may lose their jobs by the end of the year, while 40 percent plan to look for a new job once the recession eases.

According to the Office of National Statistics there were 29,108,000 people employed during the February to April 2009 period.

The Confederation of British Industry last week estimated that up to 13,000 jobs were lost in the financial sector in the third quarter of this year.

And the UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the outlook for jobs in the country is bleaker than it was in the 1990s.