About 924,000 of record 3.2 million people who regularly work through night are over 50, TUC says.

Night Workers

The number of overnight workers over the age of 50 has risen to almost 1 million, a study suggests. Over 50s account for about 924,000 of a record 3.2 million people who regularly work through the night.

The figure has increased by 173,000 over the past five years as older people stay in work longer and more such jobs are created, like those in social care, according to the analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The research indicated that 222,000 people over the age of 60 were working nights, and 69,000 aged over 65.

The TUC said the number of people regularly working night shifts was at its highest level since official records began in 2005, and the figure is 100,000 higher compared with five years ago. Over-50s account for all of the increase in overnight work since 2014, while fewer young people do late shifts, the union said.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said working unsociable hours can disrupt a person’s family life and affect their health. She added: “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. The government is not doing enough to protect these workers. They need better notice of their shifts and proper compensation if work is cancelled.”

Jobs most likely to involve night shifts include care work, nursing, road transport and security, the report said.

A study in 2018 found that working night shifts can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms so much that the brain and digestive system end up completely out of kilter with one another.

Patrick Thomson, from the Centre for Ageing Better, said it was important to ensure that people were not being pushed into strenuous, insecure or isolated work at unsociable hours through a lack of alternative available work.

He added: “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 government is proposing changes that would give flexible workers, including night workers, new rights and protections.

A government spokesperson said it was determined to make the UK the best place in the world to work and start a business and added that older workers “provide a huge benefit to our economy”.

(Story source: The Guardian) 

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