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TUC: key workers “working through the night” deserve better pay and conditions
As the clocks went back on saturday to mark the beginning of winter, the TUC is calling for better pay and conditions for night-workers – including the 1.8 million key workers who regularly work nights.
New analysis published by the union body reveals that 1 in 3 (35%) night-workers earn less than £10 an hour. This is despite the heightened health risks that come with night work and the disruption it causes to workers’ lives.
The analysis also shows that key workers (1.8 million) account for more than half of the UK’s 3.4 million night-workers.
Key workers are twice as likely to work overnight than other workers.
Low-paid and insecure
The TUC says that many key workers who keep vital services going overnight are undervalued and often employed on low pay and insecure contracts.
Care workers (406,000) are more likely to work night shifts than other profession. But many earn less than £10 an hour and are on zero-hours contracts.
The union body says the government must use its long-awaited employment bill to “level up” conditions for workers in this sector starting with banning zero-hours contracts.
Health impact of night work
As well as being bad for family life, the health risks of regular night work include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.
The TUC is calling for a number of measures to protect and compensate night workers. These include:
- Pay to properly reflect the likely additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail.
- New legislation to ensure that workers always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns so they can make arrangements well in advance.
- Compensation for shift changes at short notice.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady recently said:
“Working through the night is tough – especially in the middle of a global pandemic.
“We all owe Britain’s night workers a huge debt for keeping the country running while we are asleep.
“It is not right that so many of those who work overnight – especially in key sectors like care – are on low pay and insecure contracts.
“The government must ensure that all night workers are treated with dignity at work. That means levelling up working conditions and pay and ensuring people are given proper notice of their shifts.
“And it means honouring the promise to increase the minimum wage that would benefit over two million key workers.”
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