Night shift workers are more at risk of ill health, data shows

29 October 2019 by Grace Coleman
blog author

Night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The national trade union centre published analysis which highlighted that 266,000 people (11.3 per cent) regularly work nights in the South West, with the highest number of night workers toiling in the care industry.

The data notes older workers (over 50) account for all the growth in night workers since 2014 and across Britain, nearly one million (924,000) night workers are aged over 50.

According to the TUC, older employees stay in work for longer and more jobs are being created in sectors like social care where older workers are more likely to be employed.

Care workers (432,000) are now most likely to work night shifts, followed by nurses and midwives (232,000) and road transport drivers (208,000).

The Office for National Statistics analysis shows that in total 3.25 million people (more than 1 in 9 workers) work in Britain’s night-time economy– an increase of 100,000 compared to five years ago. 

The TUC is calling for greater protection for the millions of UK workers who regularly work through the night which can lead to health implications as well as poor quality of family life. And older workers are more at risk when it comes to ill health. 

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the TUC South West, 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. However, working nights can be really tough – it can disrupt family life and place a strain on people’s health and their pockets with costs soaring due to limited public transport or childcare services.

“Night workers can also be subject to damaging insecure work contracts and low pay. This government is not doing enough to protect night workers. They need better notice of night shifts and proper compensation to account for the increased costs of night working.”   

The TUC has made a variety of recommendations, including negotiating shift patterns between unions and employers, giving workers some control over their rotas and the Government tightening night working rules.