According to an analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), there are now nearly one million (924,000) night workers aged over 50 in Britain, with a significant number aged over 60 (222,000) and 65 (69,000).

This figure is up from 751,000 five years ago with the result that older workers in their 50s and above account for the growth in night working since 2014. Conversely fewer young workers are doing night shifts.

There are a number of key factors behind the rise. For instance, older workers are now staying in work for longer and more jobs are being created in sectors like social care where older workers are more likely to be employed.

Indeed, care workers (432,000) account for the majority of night workers, followed by nurses and midwives (232,000). 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.

The number of people regularly working night shifts is at its highest level since the Office for National Statistics began collecting records in their current form. The analysis of official data shows that 3.25 million people (more than one in nine workers) work in Britain’s night-time economy – 100,000 more than five years ago.

The TUC is, therefore, 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. It recommends that:

  • The government tightens the rules on night working
  • 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
  • The government legislates to ensure that workers always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns and that changes at short notice are compensated
  • The pay for those working nights should properly reflect the likely additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail.


Jo Seery of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: "The TUC is right to urge for better protection for night workers.  The duty on employers under the Working Time Regulations to offer night workers’ health assessments and transfer them to day work where they suffer health problems, should also be strengthened."

To read the analysis in full, visit: