1 in 5 Remote Overtime Workers Will Not Be Paid, Estimated $5,626 a Year Lost

Since the pandemic started, 42% of workers are working overtime, 20% of them will do it for free, losing an estimated $5,626 a year – that’s according to a recent study by Self Financial which reveals how much unpaid overtime Americans are now doing.

  • 2 in 5 (42%) of employees are working extra hours, 27% say 5-6 hrs extra a week
  • 1 in 5 (20%) of those who work extra hours will do $432.72 weekly unpaid overtime, $5,626 a year
  • 46% of workers reported increased levels of stress due to working more hours
  • 88.5% say they woke up earlier and went to bed later to fit in the extra work during the pandemic
  • 73% of remote-working parents said childcare duties had increased, averaging 3-4 hours extra per day

One study from 2020 revealed that the average American is expected to work an extra 7 hours every week due to the pandemic and the demands caused by the new working environment. New research by Self Financial analyzed this further to understand what was causing people to work longer hours and how it has affected their lives.

To view the full findings of the ‘Unseen Overtime’ study please view here: https://www.self.inc/info/unpaid-overtime-analysis/

Overall, 42% said they were working more hours since the pandemic started, alongside 41% who stated their average weekly hours had remained the same throughout. Only 17% were working reduced hours due to the virus.

Based on current employment figures, this would mean up to an estimated 62.637 million people are working extra hours every week due to the pandemic.

Working overtime

Of those who stated they worked overtime, 28% said they worked 3-4 hours, while 27% said they worked 5-6 hours extra a week. These findings were similar to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s data from July 2020 which found that people were working an extra hour a day.

Taking a 4.5 hour weekly average from the 3-6 hour majority time, Self Financial worked out that the average employee from the dataset (on a $50,000 salary) would work an extra $433 a week. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics places the average salary at $51,000.

Further questioning revealed that 1 in 5 of these overtime workers do not expect to get paid for their extra hours. This means that for those who don’t get paid, working an average salary, they would work $5,626 a year unpaid.

Factoring in official employment figures for 2021, this would equate to an estimated 12.53 million of the American workforce who will work overtime with no compensation. Financially, this will mean an estimated $70.48 billion will be worked for free over a year due to unpaid overtime.

Why are people working overtime?

When asked why they were working more overtime, the most common reason (44%) was that work was taking longer when working from home. The other reasons for overworking were as follows:

  • A third (36%) said they had a passion or love for the job
  • 35% said they were working extra hours to use as leverage for a pay rise and/or promotion
  • Another third (33%) said they had taken on extra responsibilities from fired employees
  • 21% said there were interruptions from family members at home
  • 19% were working extra to pass the time
  • 18% said childcare responsibilities were impacting their work
  • 7% said they had technical difficulties accessing necessary tools and software

The effects of overworking

A March 2021 study by the Department of Defense (DOD) found that work-related stress causes insomnia, mental wellbeing issues, and poor work performance.

This survey found similar findings, with 98.9% stating they had faced at least one negative impact of overworking.

Almost half (46%) said that they had increased stress, the most common impact of overworking. With 31% stating they felt exhaustion, 30% said they faced anxiety, 28% stated feeling overwhelmed, and 25% said they had felt depressed.

The other reasons given by respondents are shown in the following graph:

Working fewer hours

Self also spoke to the 17% who indicated they were working fewer hours to find out how their lives had been impacted.

The majority of this group (22.6%) worked around 3-4 fewer hours each week, with 19% saying they worked 9-10 hours less.

When asked about their primary reasons for their hours reducing, most (59%) of our respondents said their work had reduced capacity or was simply not available.

Other reasons given were:

  • Previous working hours not available any more (59%)
  • Job role had changed causing me to lose hours (34%)
  • Higher productivity had reduced need to work longer hours (26%)
  • Family commitments meant I had to reduce work (17%)
  • Personal health meant I had to work less (12%)

Impact of reduced hours

Of the group who indicated they had their working hours reduced, 75% said they had experienced an impact on their wellbeing (either positive or negative) due to reduced hours.

The most common impacts people reported on their lives were increased stress (38%) and anxiety (30%), but respondents also acknowledged they did have increased time with their family (22%). The full reasons are given in the following graph:

Childcare duties

From the survey, just over half (52%) stated they had dependent children that had affected their remote working situation. Of this group of parents, 73% said their childcare duties had increased, 22% said it stayed the same, while 5% said it had decreased.

The majority (28%) said that their childcare duties had increased by 3-4 hours a day, a further 26% said it had been higher at 5-6 hours a day.

Coupled with extra hours, some parents could be working an extra 8 hours a day on both work and childcare commitments.

Commuting time

Finally, the remote workers in the survey were asked how their commutes had changed.

36% said that they are saving 7.5 hours on commuting each week based on an average 1.5 hours a day for 5 days.

Another third (33%) said they are saving less than an hour, while 16% indicated between 2-3 hours each day.

Across an entire year, this would mean that 36% are saving an average of just under 16 days (15.75) a year on commuting, based on a 262 day working year (minus 10 days vacation).

Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Counselor, at Self Financial, had this to say on the research:

“Unseen overtime that isn’t paid but is a debt to your own personal life is a challenge many face when trying to juggle work demands during a troubling economy. If possible, people should always request overtime be paid and raise any issues with their necessary departments. It’s important we all remember to look after our health and wellbeing at this time.”

“For those that were able to get paid overtime, remember to focus on emergency savings and paying down any debts you may have. With the next 12 months still somewhat uncertain a financial safety net is more important than ever.”

To view the full study and findings please visit:https://www.self.inc/info/unpaid-overtime-analysis/

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About Self Financial
Self Financial (https://www.self.inc/) is a fintech company based in Austin, Texas, dedicated to helping people build credit and save money with a range of financial products.

Additional commentary and insights from Self Financial and other experts can be provided on request.

This representative survey was conducted online from March 16th – 23rd and polled 1,147 Americans from a variety of financial backgrounds, using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk survey platform.

All respondents indicated they worked at least one (1) day a week remotely from home. 57.5% indicated they worked full-time remotely when the survey was taken.

The respondents stated they worked in a range of company sizes, with most in medium-sized businesses:

Large Business – More than 500 employees – 33.65%
Medium Business – Between 51 – 500 employees – 43.24%
Small business 2-50 employees – 23.10%

In terms of gender, 54.9% of our respondents identified as male, 43.9% stated female, with 1.2% choosing not to say or identifying as ‘Non-binary’ or ‘Agender’.

Imagery and attribution
All images from this report may be used and republished with attribution to Self Financial, and hyperlink back to this page. You can access high-res graphics for download in this Google Drive folder:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1gluOD9fXRlz5UX5RIRxD4MDbYlrKL6Ek?sp=sharing