Excessive working hours affecting civil servant wellbeing, FDA report finds

Excessive working hours culture is decreasing public sector productivity and negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of civil servants, an FDA study has found.

68% of respondents to the FDA’s Working Hours Survey believe their departments’ effectiveness “is negatively impacted by our workload and additional working hours”, while 82% believe working excess hours has adversely affected their wellbeing.

The FDA conducts this annual survey to monitor their members’ working hours, and to understand the impact of their workloads.

This year, 1,346 civil servants completed the survey. The findings describe a worrying trend of excessive working hours becoming the “new normal”, with 69% of respondents stating “my workload is set with no correlation to whether it is possible to complete in the time available, because it is assumed I will complete the work no matter what.”

74% believed working excessive hours is a problem in their department or agency, and 73% feel there is not enough staff in the organisation to complete its work.

FDA assistant general secretary Amy Leversidge said: “Civil servants are devoted to their work and to serving the nation, but they cannot run on pure dedication. Our survey results show that these vital workers are under real pressure. The current status quo of ever-increasing workloads and stagnant pay cannot continue if the civil service is to deliver on the significant challenges ahead.

“The FDA are calling for government departments to ensure civil servants have the resources they need to do their jobs. There needs to be a focus on recruitment and retention, so we have the right number of people to complete work and meet deadlines. Crucially, staff need to be allowed a life outside the office. Maximum hours do not equate to maximum efficiency: protecting their work life balance is not only the ethical thing to do, but the practical one as well.

“The government is taking advantage of civil servants’ commitment to their work, and gaining many extra hours of work for free but this is a false economy. Increasing workloads are increasing the strain on civil servants who have been trusted with implementing government policy at a time of national upheaval.

“The government must demonstrate that they value these workers and ensure civil servants have enough time to do their jobs to the high standard the country expects.”

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