Brian Glick says one-third of British IT professionals work 34 days unpaid each year. I expect that’s normal in the English-speaking world.

If we accept 40 hours a week for 47 weeks of the year  is the standard, then IT workers do around 15 percent more work than their employers pay for.

Or, put another way, they give employers a 15 percent discount on their salary.

Glick worries about the health implications of this extra workload. Many extra hours come late at night or even overnight. People may work seven-day weeks for weeks on end.

More concerns:

  • Extra hours may score workers brownie points with managers, but they may not be productive. There’s evidence productivity drops after so many hours on the job (different sources quote different numbers) but take it as read that you won’t get as much done in your ninth hour of working as in your first hour.
  • Tired workers are more likely to make serious mistakes than refreshed ones. Maybe this isn’t as serious for IT workers as for say, lorry drivers, but trashing databases and screwing systems is costly.
  • Unemployed workers, probably friends and former colleagues of those in employment,  would only be too willing to take on some of the burden.
  • I once worked in a company where there was a competition among staff to see who could work latest each night. It had low morale and a high staff turnover. That was more costly to the company’s owners than stumping up for a few extra employees or contractors.

Previous generations fought long and hard to establish the 40-hour week and annual leave. It would be a mistake if today’s workers threw all that away.

IT workers giving away free time –