Trade workers asked for free labour or advice at least twice a week – research

Posted on 23 Jan 2024 by The Manufacturer

Trade workers are being asked 9 times a month on average by friends for free labour or advice, new research has revealed.

Although the majority would not do their job unless they were paid, the research by Helly Hansen Workwear, a premium workwear manufacturer, reveals workers give up over a week of their time on average* every month, free of charge.

Eager to please, a quarter (25%) offer mates rates as they feel guilty not doing it and 68% say they feel pressure to, even though they don’t want to (23%). On average, those who do cheap work for friends and family believe they lose out on around £1,400 a year.

As a result, workers are hit by two different losses – time AND money.

However, 39% admit they make up excuses, such as being “too busy”, to get out of doing free work for friends. Almost a quarter (22%) have pretended they have an emergency to deal with, while 1 in 5 (21%) fake sick to get out of doing jobs they will not be paid for.

When spotted out and about in their uniform, it can be an obvious reminder that your mate is in a trade and can perhaps ‘pop in and get a few jobs done’!

But both a blessing and a curse, 2 in 5 (39%) feel proud of their profession when they wear their uniform. So much so, over a third wear their uniform even when they don’t need to as they think people trust them more when they wear it (36%) or because they feel more professional (42%).

Whilst uniforms can be a blatant reminder of a profession and cause unwanted requests from friends and family, it’s a vital part of their working day as it makes workers feel more confident and professional, not to mention it’s the health and safety benefits.

Despite this, half of trade workers (50%) admit they sometimes avoided wearing PPE at work despite health and safety regulations.

A further 57% reveal that they or a colleague had suffered a work-related injury due to not wearing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) or clothing the past. Of those who said this, 69% said the most recent occasion it had happened resulted in a serious injury.

According to the study, the average time an injury happened was at 8.20 am in the morning. With the sun not rising until after 8.30am in the winter months, this could become a greater concern for workers starting their day in the dark.

Plumbers are the most common profession when it comes to feeling pressured to offer mates rates – with 40% saying this, compared to 25% of boiler/gas engineers saying the same.

They were also the most common profession to admit they sometimes avoided wearing PPE despite health and safety regulations (72%), with 45% of plumbers suffering a work-related injury through not wearing the right gear in the past.

However, almost a third (32%) noted that their uniform made them feel more competent and a quarter feel more attractive!

Looking ahead, 30% highlight that offering mates rates may lead to further work if they do a good job, which is the main reason that they do it.

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