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Britons urged to work proper hours

British workers miss out on $43 billion a year in unpaid overtime.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British workers sick of a culture of unpaid overtime have been urged to make a stand by trade unions.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has declared Friday "Work Your Proper Hours Day" and encouraged workers to start on time, take a proper lunch break and leave work when they should.

Managers have also been urged to show their appreciation for their employees' efforts by taking staff out for a drink or a meal after work.

February 25 was chosen as it would be the first working day of the year that the average long hours employee would get paid if they did all their unpaid overtime at the start of the year, according to TUC research.

But many workers -- particularly in managerial and professional positions -- would have to wait until March to see a payslip.

According to a long hours league table, teachers and lecturers work the most unpaid overtime, clocking up an average of 11 hours and 36 minutes every week. That would keep them in the classroom for free until March 22.

But corporate and senior managers also fared badly. As well as averaging nine hours and 48 minutes in overtime, their higher average salary meant their unpaid work was valued at £19,000 ($36,305) compared with a teacher's £9,892 ($18,908).

Last month the TUC revealed that unpaid overtime was costing British workers £23 billion ($43 billion) a year and calculated that each employee who worked an average amount of overtime would receive an extra $8,700 annually if paid at their normal rate.

London workers were among the worst hit, putting in an average of 7.9 extra hours every week -- almost a complete working day.

But overtime does not just leave workers out of pocket. Long hours can cause stress, health and relationship problems, as well as leaving staff tired and burnt out for business, the TUC warns.

"Everyone knows we work the longest hours in Europe," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber. "Too many workplaces are gripped by a long hours culture, where staff are expected to put in unpaid extra time week after week.

"We are not saying that we should all become clock-watchers, but it's about time we called time on bosses who think the longer something takes, the better the job is done.

"Work Your Proper Hours Day is a once a year opportunity to say no to the long hours culture. On one level it's a bit of fun, but it has a serious side too, giving managers and their staff the chance to ask some tough questions about how there is organized."

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