According to a report by the TUC, three in 10 people who work at night earn less than £10 per hour, while a staggering seven out of 10 earn less than £15 an hour.
Despite the increased health risks that come with night work (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression) and the disruption it causes to workers’ lives and those of their family, the TUC found no evidence of a pay premium.
Not surprisingly perhaps, care workers account for the largest number of night workers in Britain. In total, there are about 460,000 of them, equating to 35.1 per cent of night workers. The next highest are nurses, with just over 215,000 working overnight, equating to 38.7 per cent of the profession.
As the majority of these workers are women, the TUC points out that they are at greater risk of harassment and attacks when travelling to and from work late at night. The union body therefore wants employers to consider the health hazards of night working when undertaking risk assessments and also to take responsibility for workers’ safety in terms of travelling to and from their workplace at night.
The region with the highest number of night workers is London, where there are 429,000 workers equating to 10 per cent of the overall working population. However, the region with the highest percentage of workers doing night shifts is the North East, where 14 per cent of the workforce do nights, followed by the North West at 12 per cent, and Yorkshire and the Humberside at 11 per cent.
Given the scale of the issue, 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
- Compensation for shift changes at short notice
- A £15 an hour minimum wage for all staff
- The introduction of sector-wide “fair pay agreements” in sectors like social care to ensure minimum standards on pay, working conditions and training
- More comprehensive risk assessments
- Full payment for carers covering all time spent on sleep-in shifts.
To read the report in full, click here.