TUC calls for better pay and conditions for night workers

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2 min read
nurse injecting vaccine
Key workers are twice as likely to work night shifts than any other type of employee, the analysis found. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has demanded better pay and conditions for night workers after it was revealed that one in three earn less than £10 (13) an hour.

The union body warned that 1.2 million of Britain’s 3.4 million night workers earn less than this amount, with many on insecure zero-hour contracts.

Key workers are twice as likely to work night shifts than any other type of employee, the analysis found. Based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), it revealed that nurses and care workers were the most likely professions to work night shifts, with 406,000 care staff and 245,000 nurses regularly working overnight.

Yorkshire and Humberside have the highest percentage of key workers working overnight, with 183,000 key workers making up 60% of the region's 306,000 night shift employees.

This was followed closely with Wales (57%), the North West (54%) and the South West (53%).

The TUC said that many key workers “are undervalued and often employed on low and insecure contracts, despite keeping the nation’s vital services going overnight.”

It has called on the government to use its long-awaited employment bill to “level up” conditions for workers in the care sector, starting with banning zero-hours contracts.

READ MORE: Ethnic minority millennials more likely to be on zero-hour contracts

As well as better pay, TUC is calling for new legislation to ensure that workers always have sufficient notice of shift patterns and compensation for shift changes at short notice.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that the UK owes its night workers “a huge debt” for keeping the country running while we sleep.

“The government must make sure all night workers are treated with dignity at work. That means levelling up working conditions and pay, and ensuring people are given proper notice of their shifts,” she said.

“And it means honouring the promise to increase the minimum wage that would benefit over two million key workers.”

A number of unions have previously called for zero-hour contracts to be scrapped. Earlier this year, before the country went into lockdown, zero hour contracts hit a record high.

Watch: What is universal basic income?