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- New TUC analysis shows that 1 in 3 night-workers earn less than £10 an hour
- Key workers are twice as likely to do night shifts than other workers
- Many working overnight are on low pay and insecure contracts, says union body

As the clocks go back tonight (Saturday) to mark the beginning of winter, the TUC is calling for better pay and conditions for night-workers – including the estimated 137,000 key workers who work nights across the South West  

New analysis published by the union body reveals more than a third (35%) of night-workers in the UK earn less than £10 an hour. This is despite the heightened health risks that come with working nights, and the disruption it causes to workers’ lives.

Key workers 

The analysis also shows that key workers (137,000) account for more than half of the South West’s 259,000 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 are undervalued and often employed on low pay and insecure contracts, despite keeping the nation’s vital services going overnight.

Care workers make up the biggest proportion of workers who work nights than any other profession. But many earn less than £10 an hour and are on insecure, zero-hours contracts.

The trade union body says the government must use its long-awaited employment bill to “level up” conditions for workers in the care 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 Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley said: 

“Working through the night is tough – especially in the middle of a global pandemic.  

“The added costs of childcare, transport and other expenses to get to work can really add up. Not to mention the impact it can have on your health and family life.

“Yet so many of our night workers are on low pay and insecure contracts – especially in key sectors like care.

“We all owe night workers a huge debt for keeping services running while we are asleep. 

“The government must make sure 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.” 

Editors note

Night workers 



Number of night workers 

Number of key workers doing night shifts 

% of night workers who are key workers 

South West 











Source: Source: ONS Labour Force Survey, Apr-Jun 20, Usual to work at night 

Top 10 occupations for night workers 



Caring Personal Services 


Nursing and Midwifery Professionals 


Protective Service Occupations 


Road Transport Drivers 


Other Elementary Services Occupations 


Health Professionals 


Elementary Security Occupations 


Sales Assistants and Retail Cashiers 


Artistic, Literary and Media Occupations 


Elementary Storage Occupations 


Managers and Proprietors in Hospitality and Leisure Services 


Source: ONS Labour Force Survey, Apr-Jun 20, Usual to work at night 

-The TUC estimates (based on official figures) that 1.2 million night-workers earn less than £10 an hour. That equates to more than 1 in 3 (35%) of night workers. 

-17% of key workers regularly work overnight compared to 8% of other workers.  

-The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 

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