Journalists 'give away £6,000 a year in overtime'

Journalists are among the media professionals putting in the equivalent of £6,000 in unpaid overtime a year, according to a survey by TUC.

The trade unions federation found that four in 10 journalists, photographers and PR officers worked more than six hours unpaid overtime every week, worth £5,884 a year per person.

The TUC estimated that across the sector, nearly 50,000 employees work unpaid overtime worth £288m a year.

The NUJ said that the culture of overworking in journalism was ‘seriously threatening the future of quality journalism”.

The TUC commissioned the survey ahead of its annual Work You Proper Hours day next Friday [22 February].

General secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘The media industry is notorious for its long hours culture and today’s figures show that many employees are not getting paid for putting in all those extra hours.

‘Long hours and unpaid overtime will always be part of the media industry. But on ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’ we want bosses to thank staff for all the extra effort they put in. They could even show their appreciation by chipping in for those much needed after work drinks.

‘We also want staff to honour the day by taking a proper lunch break and leaving work on time. In the longer term, the media industry should make an effort to curb the worst excesses of unpaid overtime.”

NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: ‘It’s easy for employers to say that long hours are the norm for media workers, but this culture is symptomatic of big business’s lack of respect for quality journalism.

‘While it’s true that journalists have always put in extra effort when a story demands it, many bosses now demand people put in the extra hours, day after day, week after week. That has a knock on effect on the quality of work journalists are able to produce.’

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