Getting away from work in the evenings and during weekends is highly important for workers’ health both mental and physical, yet all too many UK employees are having their weekends taken up by work-related tasks, according to newly published research from membership organisation Boundless.

The study of 2,000 full-time office workers in the UK found that 65% of respondents regularly find themselves doing extra work at the weekend, time which would be worth thousands if said employees were to be paid for the overtime.

Breaking it down further, 82% of respondents said they have worked at least one weekend in the past six months, with more than a quarter (29%) of those having worked the equivalent of a full day on a Saturday (in this context a full day is defined as 5-8 hours). The slightly lower figure of 23% have done the same on a Sunday, while approximately 10% have worked a third of all weekends over the course of the past 6 months.

James Robertson, head of marketing for Boundless, commented on the differing motivations of workers in the private and public sectors to give up their weekends to work. He says, “There were significant differences between the private and public sectors in terms of reasons for working weekends. Overall, private sector workers saw weekend work as an opportunity to further their careers or enhance job security, whereas public sector workers were more concerned with workload and getting jobs finished.”

To be more exact, 33% of public sector workers said they had no choice but to work at the weekends due to understaffing, compared to nearly a quarter 23% of those in the private sector. Having said that, those in the private sector are twice as likely to work weekends in an effort to further their career as those in the public sector (8% of private sector workers, compared with 4% of public sector workers).

There are of course various other motivations to pursue weekend work; for example 53% of respondents said they feel their boss expects them to put in work during the weekends, while 24% stated that while there is little expectation from their boss to work weekends, the same boss wouldn’t be happy if they weren’t on top of everything come Monday morning, thereby providing that pressure indirectly.

By far the most common work-related tasks to be performed at weekends are the checking of emails (595), and subsequently responding (54%).

This added workload is creating some real issues in UK offices, with 60% of workers not satisfied with their rate of pay in light of the added hours. 46% of private sector workers also said they feel their wage is too low for the tasks they are performing.

Aside from financial concerns however, the stress and pressure of escalating workloads and dwindling time-frames is sure to have an effect of the health of employees, as stress has long been shown to contribute to the development of some serious mental and physical health issues. If employers don’t take steps to correct this issue soon, they may find their workforce to be worn out and unproductive, with higher rates of absenteeism creeping in as a result.

James Robertson commented on the findings, “All this overtime at the weekends puts a huge strain on people’s work-life balance. Our research showed that that 46% of public sector workers feel like their work-life balance is all wrong, compared to 39% of those in the private sector.

“It is crucial that people maximise their spare time and make the most of it, or we risk work dominating our lives.

“In our research, most office workers chose to spend their spare time with friends and family, which is great to see, but nearly 40% said their family or partner complains that they never switch off from work.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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