It is estimated that in 2004, UK staff worked around £23 billion of unpaid overtime, whether by working late, at the weekend or during scheduled lunchbreaks. The latest figures based on Labour Force Survey statistics were highlighted by the TUC ahead of last Friday's 'Work Your Proper Hours Day'.

According to the TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, the UK's culture of long working hours is a main factor behind increasing levels of stress and ill health at work, "Everyone knows we work the longest hours in Europe. Too many workplaces are gripped by a long hours culture, where staff are expected to put in unpaid extra time week after week."

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