Unpaid overtime becomes norm in the financial sector

NEARLY a third of Irish employees in the financial services sector are expected to work more than 10 hours unpaid overtime every week, according to a survey published yesterday.

However, the survey also reveals that as many Irish workers are unwilling to put in any extra work without being paid for their effort.

The poll, conducted by Robert Walters, an employment agency specialising in placing financial workers, revealed that 29% of those working in the sector are expected to work nearly a day and a half extra every week. This compares with an international average of 33%.

While the vast majority work at least three hours extra free a week, 28% in Ireland say they are not expected to do any more than two hours a week.

Niamh O’Brien, Dublin manager for Robert Walters, said: “Employers are getting an extra day and a half out of nearly one third of their staff for nothing. This extremely high statistic also points out the employee’s ambition and commitment in today’s working environment.

“In our experience, candidates going into new roles expect a certain level of overtime, demonstrating that it has become commonplace. The days of nine-to-five for modern, ambitious professionals have long since gone.”

However, union leaders reacted with less enthusiasm. “Nobody should work overtime without getting paid,” said ICTU’s Oliver Donohue. “This is a dangerous management approach. There may be an attitude that if you come into work at six and do not leave until 12, you one day might be manager...yeah, you and 2,000 others.”

While the Irish Bankers Federation, whose members employ thousands in the financial sector, did not want to comment on the issue, an IBEC spokesperson said the idea of a more flexible working day was not confined to the financial sector: “If employees are flexible on one side, employers are liable to be flexible on the other.” There are other rewards and incentives, such as extra leave.

Gerry Shanahan, national officer for the union, Amicus, which represents many financial workers, said employees’ natural ambition, and management’s attitude that someone who works standard hours is a clock watcher, contributes to unpaid overtime.

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