Issue date
27 Oct 2017
The number of people regularly working nights has shot up by 260,000 in the past five years – a 9% increase, according to new analysis from the TUC.

The number of people regularly working nights has shot up by 260,000 in the past five years – a 9% increase, according to new analysis from the TUC.

Britain’s late-night workforce now has nearly 3.2 million members, meaning 1 in 9 (12%) workers in the UK now work in the wee small hours.

1 in 6 (18%) black workers work nights – significantly more than the 1 in 9 (11%) white workers who do so. Over 150,000 black workers now do night work.

The majority (62%) of night-workers are male, with women making up well over a third (38%). 1 in 11 women work nights, compared to 1 in 7 men.

The North West and Yorkshire have the highest rates of night-working, with 1 in 9 workers on night duty.

Previous research by the TUC revealed that night working is most common in industries such as security, logistics, manufacturing and healthcare work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“As the clocks change, most of us can look forward to an extra hour in bed. But while we sleep, Britain’s late-night workforce will be busy.

“Whether it’s firefighters keeping watch, or drivers delivering packages across the country, we all depend on the UK’s army of night-workers.

“Night work can play havoc with family and social life, and have long-term health impacts. Many of the jobs are tough and often solitary.

“That’s why night workers deserve strong rights and protections at work, to make sure they can get on with the job safely and happily.”

The TUC recommends that:

  • Employers and unions should ensure that night-working is only introduced where necessary, and that no existing workers should be forced to work nights;
  • Shift patterns should be negotiated between unions and employers;
  • Workers should have some control over their rotas, so that they can ensure that their shifts suit them;
  • Workers should always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns so they can plan well in advance. Changes at short notice should be avoided;
  • Working nights leads to extra costs and inconvenience for workers, especially around childcare. Nightwork wages should reflect this.
Editors note

- A 2015 TUC report on the impact of night-working on work/life balance: bit.ly/2yOEzsJ

- Negative health impacts of night-working, from the US National Sleep Foundation: bit.ly/2gFDMC3

- All figures are based on TUC analysis of ONS figures from Q2 of the Labour Force Survey (2012 and 2017):

Number of night-workers

 

Number of night-workers

As a percentage of employees

2017

3,155,537

11.7

2012

2,893,624

11.5

Ethnicity breakdown

Ethnicity

Number of night-workers

% working nights

White

2,677,154

11.3

BME (incl. black)

477,010

14.7

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

151,112

17.5

Gender breakdown

 

Women

Men

Number of night-workers

1,210,203

1,945,334

% of night-workers

38

62

Percentage of gender night-working

8.9

14.6

Regional breakdown

Region/Nation

Number of workers (2017)

% night-working

North West

394,920

13.1

Yorkshire and Humberside

283,277

13.1

Scotland

294,278

12.7

Wales

150,013

12.7

Northern Ireland

85,816

12.5

South West

269,847

12

East Midlands

229,692

12

North East

129,669

11.9

East of England

280,144

10.9

West Midlands

245,843

10.8

London

398,686

10.6

South East

393,352

10.4

Total

3,155,537

 

Michael Pidgeon
mpidgeon@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1372
077 1753 1150 

TUC press office
media@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1248