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Key workers keep the country running through the night – they deserve better pay and conditions

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Night workers keep our services running at great personal cost. It’s time the government recognises the sacrifices they make and levels up their working conditions.

As the clocks went back at the weekend, many night workers put in an extra hour at work.  

The majority will have been key workers, who are twice as likely to work overnight than other workers: of the 3.4 million workers who usually work nights, 1.8 million are key workers.  

This includes 406,000 carers, 245,000 nurses and midwives and 194,000 in emergency and protective services. 

Night working is tough – especially in the middle of a global pandemic.  

It increases the risk of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and depression. 

Night working can also have a negative impact on home life and relationships.  

It can make it difficult to manage caring responsibilities, especially when shifts are unpredictable. 

Despite doing difficult and essential work, night workers are often undervalued.  

Our analysis shows that 1 in 3 night workers earn less than £10 an hour.  

The government must ensure that all night workers are treated fairly and properly compensated.  

This means banning zero-hours contracts and implementing promised increases to the minimum wage. 

The TUC is calling for the following measures: 

  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour. 

  • An end to zero-hours contracts. 

  • Pay to properly reflect the likely additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail. 

  • New legislation to ensure workers always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns, so they can plan well in advance.  

  • Compensation for shift changes at short notice. 

Night workers have to make huge sacrifices to look after our loved ones and keep vital services going, particularly in times of crisis.  

The government must level up working conditions and pay, so all night workers are treated with dignity. 

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