It will come as no great surprise to many readers of this blog that workers in the UK are clocking up a significant amount of unpaid overtime on a weekly basis. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous blog, UK working hours are reportedly among the longest in the EU.

If you’re in the habit of coming into the office early or working through your lunch break however then bear in mind that today, 24 February, is Work Your Proper Hours Day, a day dedicated to workers making the most of their own time and, well, working their proper hours!

According to TUC’s worksmart website, long hours are bad for us for a number of reasons, including causing stress and negatively impacting on our health. In addition, the website even suggests that working long hours can have a negative impact upon businesses due to workers becoming over-tired and counter-productive and can negatively affect our relationships. Try and resist the temptation but the website even features an online tool for calculating how much you would have earned had you been paid overtime for all of those extra unpaid hours.

The key message that seems to come out of Work Your Proper Hours Day is that although a diligent work ethic is commendable, employers should not take this unpaid overtime for granted, particularly since it reportedly contributed around £29.2 billion worth of value to employers during 2011. Aside from this, it is obviously important for employers to ensure that working hours aren’t becoming excessive from a health and safety and HR point of view as well.

Happily, given that today is Friday this should make leaving the office on time all the more enjoyable. So, make the most of Work Your Proper Hours Day and take back your Friday evening!