Teachers 'work more overtime than most other professionals in Britain'

Teachers are twice as likely as chief executives to put in unpaid overtime, new figures reveal

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Half of all teachers work unpaid overtime: more than most other professionals in Britain, new figures reveal.

In fact, they are more than twice as likely to work unpaid overtime than chief executives, according to data published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

More than half – 53 per cent – of teachers and educational professionals put in unpaid overtime, the data shows. By contrast, only 26 per cent of chief executives put in unpaid overtime.

Legal professionals and functional managers – a category that includes human-resource, public-relations and IT managers, as well as marketing and sales directors – worked almost as hard as teachers, with 45 per cent working unpaid overtime.

'A fact of life'

The TUC data listed unpaid overtime for professions with the longest average unpaid hours. 

Legal professionals work an average of 9.6 unpaid hours a week, and functional managers an average of 8.8 hours.

Teachers, by contrast, work an average of 12.5 unpaid hours each week. They are second only to chief executives, who tend to put in 14.1 hours of unpaid overtime each week.

James Bowen, of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “Unpaid overtime has become a fact of life for most teachers.

“Teaching has always been a demanding job, but the demands have never been higher, with evening and weekend working commonplace for the vast majority.”

NAHT figures show that, in the last year, two-thirds of school leaders said that they were aware that their staff were leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement. The top two reasons cited were excessive workload and the need for a better work-life balance.

“The reality is that most schools run on goodwill with teachers and school leaders going way beyond their contractual obligations every day,” Mr Bowen said.

“The worry is that this is not sustainable and we are already seeing a crisis both in terms of recruitment and retention in the profession.”


Today is the TUC’s annual Work Your Proper Hours Day. To mark the occasion, the organisation is asking workers to take a proper lunch break and leave their workplaces on time. Managers are also being asked to consider how to move away from their reliance on unpaid overtime work.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Public-sector workers are more likely to work extra hours unpaid. It’s a mark of how dedicated our public servants are – and it’s kept our schools and hospitals running through years of funding cuts.

“But public-service workers have also had eight years of real pay cuts, so they are being forced to do more for less. It’s time the government give them the fully funded pay rise they have earned.”

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