New analysis by the TUC has found that the number of people who work night shifts increased by almost 10 per cent between 2011 and 2016, with women accounting for most of the increase.

Although historically most night workers tended to be men working in manufacturing plants, by 2016 one in seven male employees (14 per cent) were night-workers, compared to one in 11 (9 per cent) female employees.

There is also a clear gender split in the kind of jobs male and female night-workers do. The two most common professions for female night-workers are care-working and nursing, with numbers increasing by 15 per cent and 4 per cent respectively over the past five years.

Male night workers are most likely to work in protective service occupations (military, security, policing) and road transport. However, the number of men doing night shifts in these professions fell by 26 per cent and 12 per cent respectively over the past five years.

The negative health impacts of night work are well-documented, such as heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, although less attention has been given to the impacts on home life and relationships.

The TUC recommends that:

  • 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
  • Workers should always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns so they can make arrangements well in advance
  • The remuneration paid to those working nights should properly reflect the likely additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail.

Jo Seery of Thompsons said: “The fact that night work is most common amongst women under the age of 30 suggests that more women may be working nights to balance their caring responsibilities. Responsible employers should be assessing the risks to these women’s health and safety and properly paying them for the work they do”.

To read the analysis in full, go to: