Over 50-year-olds behind increase in night workers which can be a 'strain on their health'

There are now nearly one million over 50-year-old night workers in the UK which can be a “strain on their health” and wellbeing.

According to data from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), there are now 924,000 night workers over 50, a rise from 751,000 five years ago.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said:

Britain’s loyal army of night workers has been boosted significantly by older workers.

We all owe them a huge debt for keeping the country ticking over while we are asleep.

Night work can be really hard – disrupting family life and placing a strain on people’s health.

The Government is not doing enough to protect these workers. They need better notice of their shifts and proper compensation if work is cancelled.

The TUC believes this news is bad for family life as the health risks of regular night work include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, which are all heightened when workers are older.

It also believes the reasons behind this increase is older employees are staying at work for longer, and such sectors as social care are being created where older workers are more likely to be employed.

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager, Centre for Ageing Better, a charity which works to create a later life which everyone can enjoy said:

It’s crucial we ensure that people aren’t being pushed into strenuous, insecure or isolated work at unsociable hours through a lack of other work available. Many more of us are living and working for longer, so we need to make sure that jobs are designed to support our changing needs as we age, whether they are for flexible working, planning for retirement, caring for others or managing a health condition.

With increasing numbers of over-50s in night jobs that can often be arduous, it’s ever more important that employers can support health at work.

The number of people who are regularly working night shifts is at its highest since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began collecting data on this topic. Analysis of this data, shows 3.25 million people work in the UK’s night-time economy.

Care workers make up the most of night workers (432,000), with midwives coming in second at 208,000. The amount of social care workers have increased by 66,000 in the past five years, with 63,000  of this increase being workers aged 50 and over.

The south east has the most night workers in the UK with 425,000 followed closely by London at 414,000.

The TUC believes the Government should tighten the rules on night working. Workers should be able to enforce their rights at an employment tribunal.

Interested in wellbeing in the workplace We recommend the Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Forum 2019.

Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.