Leaders of the Britain's biggest public sector union have proposed industrial action if employers do not pay workers for the extra second that is being inserted into the calendar on June 30th.
At midnight on June 30th, one second is due to be added into the day. Scientists say the extra second is necessary to keep official time in line with the actual movement of the earth.
But the union says that expecting night-shift workers to cover that extra second without compensation is unreasonable. They claim that any extension of working hours constitutes a pay cut. They also say that all shift workers, not just those who will be working at midnight, should receive the extra pay. As the extra second is being inserted at an arbitrary point in the day, the union says, all shift workers should be eligible for the pay top-up.
Some union leaders are even suggesting that everyone who works, not just shift workers, should be paid for the extra second. By adding a second to the year, they claim, overall weekly or monthly pay is devalued. Workers did not ask for this extra second, so why should they take a pay cut to allow for it?
The Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that if all full-time workers in the UK were paid for the extra second, the cost to the country would be approximately £125,000. This doesn't account for the extra productivity that will be achieved during the extra second. The resulting tax benefit to the government is likely to be £30,000.
However, they said, the extra cost associated with workers taking time out at work to talk about the extra second was expected to exceed £75M.