30 May 2008
Public sector staff are putting in 120 million hours of unpaid overtime a year — the equivalent of 60,000 extra workers, Bristol University academics have found.
Research examining the 'public service ethos' found that teachers, NHS staff and workers in social care were more likely to do unpaid overtime than private sector staff — a by-product of the public sector ethos.
'After including a robust set of controls, we find that people working in welfare services in the non-profit sector are 12 percentage points more likely to do unpaid overtime than those in the private sector,' says the report published in Research in public policy.
Those who worked extra hours without pay in the public sector also did more unpaid hours than those in the private sector — an average nine hours, 35 minutes compared with eight hours, 20 minutes. 'This tells us that the public service ethos is more than just a notional idea — it shows up in real differences in behaviour between people working in the non-profit and for-profit sectors,' says the report.
The authors warn: 'For debates about the future provision of key welfare services such as education, health and social care, it matters hugely whether there really is a public service ethos.
'Privatisation of some of these services and the introduction of hard financial incentives into public sector provision potentially threaten to undermine the ethos.'
The study found there was no change in people's readiness to carry out extra work without pay when they moved sectors.
'Instead, there is evidence that people who were doing unpaid overtime in the for-profit sector are more likely to move into the non-profit sector (and vice versa),' the report says.