IT staffers are among those caught up in the UK's "long hours" culture, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

To advertise today's Work Your Proper Hours Day, the national workers welfare group said that one in three IT professionals concede an average of 34 days unpaid overtime a year, or nearly six hours a week. The numbers were part of survey results that showed 33.8 per cent of workers suffer unpaid overtime, up 1.5 per cent on last year.

In a statement, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "The recession is bringing new pressure for people to work unpaid overtime, and even more IT professionals are doing unpaid overtime than last year. But not all unpaid overtime is useful work helping to overcome the recession. When people understandably fear for their jobs employers still have a responsibility to organise work properly and ensure their workplaces don't get gripped by a long hours culture."

Although the TUC said its appeal to workers to not work beyond agreed hours today is "light hearted", working overtime without compensation is a fact of life for many IT workers of course. The rise of the internet and resulting demand for always-on services may have exacerbated the issue with planned downtime in datacentres no longer feasible for many organisations that trade online an globally.

Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, said, "A good work-life balance, which offers quality time at home, is vitally important to both the health of the employee and to the long term health of their company or organisation."

Prof. Cooper has also put together an assessment tool to advise on working habits.

However, many IT workers are not bothered about the issue.

"It's not a complaint I've ever heard," said John Kell, policy and external relations manager at the Professional Contractors Group. "People who have decided to be IT contractors understand that long hours may be part of what they are asked to do."