Civil servants ‘work more unpaid overtime than private sector staff’

Unpaid extra hours mean many public sector staff are effectively earning below the minimum wage, says GMB union


By Richard Johnstone

25 Jul 2017

Civil servants are regularly working an average of seven hours unpaid overtime a week as part of an estimated £11bn worth of unpaid hours worked across the public sector, an analysis has found. 

A review of Office for National Statistics working hour data by the GMB trade union found that 17% of central government workers, including civil servants, regularly work unpaid overtime, at an average of 6.9 hours a week. 


The percentage of Whitehall staff working extra hours is above the proportion in the private sector: 14.4% regularly worked more than their contracted hours.  

However, it is a smaller proportion than the 30% of those working in local government or the police who regularly work extra hours unpaid, at an average of nine hours a week. 

If public sector workers were paid for these extra shifts, they would be owed an extra £6,000 on average, according to the GMB – equivalent to a 24% pay rise.  

Rehana Azam, the GMB’s national secretary for public services, said the additional hours effectively meant thousands of public servants are earning below the minimum wage, particularly in the social care sector. 
She called for public sector pay policy to properly recognise the contribution of extra hours. 
“Public sector workers are the backbone of our society – working above and beyond their contracted hours because they are committed to jobs they love,” she said. 
“Yet the government rewards their dedication with crippling real-terms pay cuts. Ministers think they can push staff indefinitely, but low pay, unmanageable workloads and stress are pushing many of our members to the limit.”

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