Older workers are powering the current increase in night working, according to new analysis published recently by the TUC, with nearly a million over-50s now working through nights. This could have important implications for their health.

The number of people regularly working night shifts is at its highest level since the Office for National Statistics began collecting records in their current form.

The analysis of official data has shown that 3.25 million people (more than 1 in 9 workers) work in Britain’s night-time economy — that’s 100,000 more than five years ago.

However, while the number of over-50s doing night work has accelerated in recent years, fewer young workers are doing night shifts.

There are now nearly one million (924,000) night workers aged over 50 in Britain, up from 751,000 five years ago. A significant number are aged over 60 (222,000) and 65 (69,000).

In fact, the analysis shows that over-50s account for all the growth in night working since 2014.

The TUC says key factors behind the rise are:

  • older employees are staying in work for longer

  • more jobs are being created in sectors like social care where older workers are more likely to be employed

  • care workers are most likely to do night shifts.

Care workers account for the majority of night workers, followed by nurses and midwives.

The next most common profession for night workers is road transport drivers.

Releasing the analysis, the TUC has warned that night working is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression and is calling for greater protection for the millions of UK workers who regularly work through the night.

Commenting on the analysis, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady recently said, “Britain’s loyal army of night workers has been boosted significantly by older workers. We all owe them a huge debt for keeping the country ticking over while we are asleep… The Government is not doing enough to protect these workers.”

Last reviewed 29 October 2019