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The number of people who work night shifts has increased by 5% since 2013 to reach more than 3 million, with women accounting for two thirds of the increase, according to analysis by the TUC.
It says Britain’s night workers now account for one in nine (11.5%) employees. The number of men working night shifts is still higher than the number of women, but the TUC puts the increase in female numbers down in large part to growing employment in health and social care.
It says the number of night workers over 50 has risen by 114.5%. Most night workers are aged between 30 and 49, but increased employment in social care and the trend towards working past 65 have spread the age profile of night working, it states. There are now 674,000 people aged 50-59 working at night (an increase of 94.8% in the last five years), while the current total of 197,000 night workers aged 60 plus is a 392.7% increase on 2013.
Three industries account for most of the increase in night working in the past five years, says the TUC: wholesale and retail, transport and distribution and health and social care.
The biggest increase in night working has been in the West Midlands (+49,000), followed by the East of England (+48,000) and the East Midlands (+28,000). However, night working in Scotland has declined sharply (-55,000) and also fell in the South East (-21,000).
The TUC says the South East and London still tie for the highest number of night workers (378,000 each) even though they also have the lowest percentage of employees working nights (9.9% each). The highest percentage is still found in the North East (14.9% of employees), followed by Wales (14.2%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (13.1%).
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Night work is hard and can disrupt family life. So, we should show our appreciation for the sacrifices night workers make by ensuring they have good rights and protections at work.
“Employers must play fair and play safe, or public safety will be put at risk and the families of night workers will suffer.”