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> Care industry has highest number of night workers.
> Over one in ten workers in the South West regularly on night shifts.
> TUC warns night working is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

There are now 266,000 people regularly working nights in the South West, according to new TUC analysis published today (Saturday).  

In the region, 11.3% of the workforce are regularly doing night shifts.  

The analysis also shows that older workers are powering the national increase in night working, with workers over 50 accounting for all the growth in night workers since 2014.  

Across Britain, there are now nearly one million (924,000) night workers aged over 50 – up from 751,000 five years ago. A significant proportion are aged over 60 (222,000) and 65 (69,000).  

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

The TUC says key factors behind the rise are: 

  • older employees staying in work for longer;  
  • more jobs being created in sectors like social care where older workers are more likely to be employed.

  

11.3% of south west workers regularly take on night shifts

TUC analysis

 

Care workers most likely to work nights

Care workers (432,000) are now most likely to work night shifts, 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. 

  

Night working reaches record highs  

The number of people regularly working night shifts in Britain is at its highest level since the Office for National Statistics began collecting records in their current form. 

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

  

Serious 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. And these risks are heightened for older workers, says the TUC. 

Working nights can be really tough - on your family life, your health and your finances.

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the TUC South West

Commenting on the analysis, TUC South West regional secretary Nigel Costley 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.”  

Editors note

-  Fairness and safety for night-workers: The TUC recommends that: 

  • Government should tighten the rules on night working. Workers should be able to enforce their rights at an employment tribunal.  

  • Employers and unions should ensure that night working is only introduced where necessary.  

  • Where night working is introduced into a workplace, no existing workers should be forced to work nights. 

  • Shift patterns should be negotiated between unions and employers. 

  • Workers should have some element of control over their rotas, so that they can ensure that the shifts they work are best suited to their individual circumstances. 

  • Government should legislate to ensure that workers always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns, so they can make arrangements well in advance. Changes at short notice should be compensated. 

  • Pay for those working nights should properly reflect the additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail.  

- All data comes from analysis of ONS labour force survey, second quarter  

- The data series from ONS started in 2005 

Night working employees by age (thousands) 

Age 

2014 

2019 

Change 2014-19 

per cent change  

16-49 

2,409 

2,333 

-76 

-3.2% 

50 and over 

751 

924 

+173 

+23.0% 

60 and over 

179 

227 

+48 

+26.8% 

65 and over 

46 

69 

+23 

+50.0% 

All ages   

3,159 

3,257 

+98 

+3.1% 

  

Occupations: Top 10 most common occupations for male night workers  

Rank – 2019  

Men  

Number (thousands)  

Rank 2019  

Women  

Number (thousands) 

1  

Protective services (police, fire and prison services) 

151 

1  

Care workers (care assistants, home care workers etc.) 

341 

2  

Road transport drivers (HGV, vans, buses, taxis) 

143 

2  

Nurses and midwives 

232 

3  

Security guards 

101 

3  

Service workers (porters, bar staff, waiting staff, catering assistants) 

91 

4  

Service workers (porters, bar staff, waiting staff, catering assistants) 

100 

4  

Protective services (police, fire and prison services) 

57 

5  

Care workers (care assistants, home care workers etc.) 

96 

5  

Health professionals 

51 

6  

Health professionals 

68 

6  

Sales assistants 

42 

7  

Warehouse workers 

66 

7  

Teachers  

36 

8  

Plant and machine operators 

52 

8  

Cleaners  

34 

9  

Engineering professionals 

52 

9  

Customer service assistants 

27 

10  

Process operatives (packers, bottlers, canners, fillers) 

51 

10  

Hospitality and leisure managers 

26 

  

Breakdown by region and nation:  

2014 thousands 

2019 thousands 

Per cent 2019 

Change (thousands) 

North East 

176 

154 

14.8  

-22 

North West 

365 

339 

11.4  

-34 

Yorkshire +Humber 

280 

268 

12.3  

-12 

East Midlands 

235 

263 

13.0  

+28 

West Midlands 

246 

308 

13.0  

+62 

Eastern 

264 

252 

9.6 

-12 

London 

370 

414 

11.0 

+44 

South East 

420 

435 

11.2 

+15 

South West 

260 

266 

11.3 

Wales  

148 

165 

13.0 

+17 

Scotland  

311 

312 

13.3 

Northern Ireland 

84 

80 

10.9  

UK  

3,158  

3,257 

11.8 

+99 

* means that the change is so small as to be statistically insignificant  

The health and work life balance impacts of night-working: The negative health impacts of night work are already well documented and include heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. However, less attention has been given to the impacts on home life and relationships. The TUC wants the night economy to thrive but demands that employers must properly consider and address its impact on staff. Decisions to extend night working should always involve talks with unions. 

Diabetes and night working - study on “Night Shift Work, Genetic Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes in the UK Biobank” from early 2018.  

- Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) list age as a risk factor for heart disease.

-  TUC analysis from earlier this year showed that zero-hours workers are twice as likely to work night shifts.