Spike in numbers of night workers

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Recent research has indicated that the number of people who work night shifts has grown by over 10% in recent years, prompting calls for better health and safety protections for Britain’s “army of night-workers”.

The survey was conducted by the TUC and found that:

  • over 250,000 workers, more than one in 10 (11.4%) workers, work nights, adding to over three million workers overall in Britain

  • the number of people working night shifts has grown by 24,000 — around 10.4% — in five years

  • women accounted for two-thirds (66.8%) of the increase, with 101,000 more women working at night than five years ago

  • while male night workers still outnumber women night workers, the growing employment in health and social care is a key reason behind more women working night shifts

  • the number of night workers over 50 has risen by 114.5%, with increased employment in social care and the trend towards working past 65 spreading the age profile of night working

  • the retail, transport and health and social services industries account for most of the increase in night working in the past five years

  • the two most common professions for female night workers are care work and nursing, which together account for 561,000 women employees working at night

  • the number of men working at night has been boosted by an extra 259,000 road transport drivers and 17,000 social care assistants.

The negative health impacts of night work may include heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. However, less attention has been given to the impacts on home life and relationships which can also be affected.

Commenting on the analysis, Nigel Costley, the TUC’s Regional Secretary, said, “Whether its nurses looking after patients or taxi drivers getting us home safely, we all depend on Britain’s army of night-workers … Employers must play fair and play safe, or public safety will be put at risk and the families of night workers will suffer.”

Last reviewed 6 November 2018

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