TUC: Older workers powering an increase in night working

28 Oct 2019 12:40 PM

Older workers are powering the increase in night working, according to new TUC analysis published recently (Saturday). 

The analysis shows that over 50s account for all the growth in night working since 2014.

There are now nearly one million (924,000) night workers aged over 50 in Britain – up from 751,000 five years ago.

And a significant number are aged over 60 (222,000) and 65 (69,000).

The TUC says key factors behind the rise are:

Night working at highest level since current records began

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 shows that 3.25 million people (more than 1 in 9 workers) work in Britain’s night-time economy – 100,000 more than five years ago.

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

Care workers most likely to do night shifts

Care workers (432,000) account for the majority of night workers, followed by nurses and midwives (232,000).

The next most common profession for night workers is road transport drivers (208,000).

The number of employees working in social care has increased by 66,000 in the past 5 years. 63,000 of this increase was accounted for by workers aged over 50.

The North East has the highest share of workers doing night work

The South East has the most night workers in Britain (435,000) with London close behind (414,000).

But the North East (14.8%), Scotland (13.3%), Wales (13%) and Midlands (13%) have higher shares of their workforce regularly doing night work than the capital (11%).

Impact on health and family life

As the clocks go back tonight to mark the beginning of winter, the TUC is urging greater protection for the millions of UK workers who regularly work through the night.

As well as being bad for family life, the health risks of regular night work include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

The TUC says these risks are heightened for older workers.

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.

“Night work can be really hard – disrupting family life and placing a strain on people’s health.

“The government is not doing enough to protect these workers. They need better notice of their shifts and proper compensation if work is cancelled.”

Click here for the full press release