UK employees working two hours overtime every day

  • More than half (51%) of UK employees are working beyond their contracted hours every day, with 17% working at least two hours overtime on a daily basis
  • A quarter (25%) say the cost of living crisis has made them more stressed about their jobs
  • Work is impacting personal/ home life more than it was two years ago for 18%, with 10% saying they now can’t switch off from work


More than a sixth (17%) of employees are working at least two hours more than they are contractually obliged to every day, according to new research from Canada Life1. This comes as three in 10 (30%) say they are worried that the cost-of-living crisis means they will need to work beyond state pension age, and a quarter (25%) reveal they have found their jobs more stressful since it began two years ago.

Nearly a fifth (18%) say work impacts their personal/home life more than it did before the cost-of-living crisis started and one in ten (10%) can’t switch off from their jobs. One in six (16%) check their emails and online chats more regularly outside of working hours, more than a tenth (12%) now take fewer breaks, and 11% start work earlier.  In a bid to prove their value, 15% workers say they now feel the need to prove they are working every day.

Overall, more than half (51%) of employees are working more than 30 minutes beyond their contracted hours every day.

This comes as recent research from Canada Life revealed that over the last two years, more than two thirds (68%) of UK workers - equating to 21.7 million people - have continued to work while feeling unwell. For 18%, the main reason for this is because of the financial consequences of taking time off, 10% are worried about not getting paid, and 5% fear redundancy if they call in sick to work.

Dan Crook, Protection Sales Director, Canada Life, comments: “The ‘always on’ work culture we’ve adopted over the last few decades came to a head during the pandemic, as we set up home desks and new hybrid ways of working. But, while the novelty of being able to work from home has worn off, the ‘always on’ hangover remains.

“Working two hours overtime every day - possibly unpaid - is the equivalent of 520 hours annually for those in full time roles, or £9,048 a year based on the average wage2. And, while overtime is an occasional necessity in many jobs, well rested employees are key to a productive working environment. Employers have an active role to play in encouraging - and enabling - their staff to take the time they need to rest and recover from illness and switch off entirely from the daily grind.

“Employer wellness programmes can help retain and foster a more collaborative and productive culture without fear of being ever-present.”




Notes to editors

  1.  Survey conducted by Opinium among a nat rep sample of 2000 UK adults between 10 - 14 November 2023
  2. The average hourly wage in the UK is £17.40. Therefore, those workers who are doing two hours overtime every day, working 260 days a year, could be losing out on £9,048 if they are not being paid for this uncontracted overtime

260 working days with two hours overtime everyday = 520 hours. 520 x £17.40  = £9,048





Press enquiries should be directed to:

Lizzie Murray, Vested, 07914 698 310,

Elle McAtamney, Canada Life, 07913 568213,


About Canada Life

Canada Life is part of a group of companies controlled by Great-West Lifeco Inc., a diversified financial services holding company headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada. Through its subsidiary companies, Great-West Lifeco has operations in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Great-West Lifeco and its insurance subsidiaries have received strong ratings from major rating agencies.  Great-West Lifeco has over 38 million customers worldwide and £1.532trillion assets under administration (as at 31 December 2022).


Canada Life Limited began operations in the United Kingdom in 1903 and looks after the retirement, investment and protection needs of individuals and companies alike. As well as providing stability and security through its individual contracts, Canada Life Limited has grown and maintained its position as the market leading provider of group insurance solutions.1 Canada Life acquired Retirement Advantage on 3rd January 2018 for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition added over 30,000 retirement income and equity release customers and more than £2 billion of assets under management including a £1.5 billion block of in-force annuities to Canada Life.


Canada Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Canada Life International Limited and CLI Institutional Limited are Isle of Man registered companies authorised and regulated by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority. Canada Life International Assurance Limited and Canada Life International Assurance (Ireland) DAC are authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.


Stonehaven UK Limited, registered in England and Wales no. 05487702. Registered office: Canada Life Place, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 5BA.

Stonehaven UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


  1. Canada Life MI & Swiss Re, 2022