By Daniel Hunter

A recent report published by the TUC indicates that night working has grown since the recession, and now there are over three million regular night workers in the UK. The report looks at evidence, which shows that night working can have a negative impact on employees’ work-life and family life.

There has been an increase of 6.9 per cent of night workers between 2007 and 2014. The impacts of long-term night working are extensive and well documented. Physical impacts include a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. However, less attention has been given to the impacts on home life and relationships.

The report highlights that night working can increase the risk of relationship problems, the emotional wellbeing of the employees’ children, and is generally associated with higher childcare costs. However, these impacts can be controlled and lessened if night workers have more influence over their shift patterns.

Employees should keep in mind that:

• Employers and unions should ensure that night working is only introduced where necessary.
• Where night working is introduced into a workplace, no existing workers should be forced to work nights.
• Shift patterns should be negotiated between unions and employers.
• Workers should have some element of control over their rota, so that they can ensure that the shifts they work are best suited to their individual circumstances.
• Workers should always have sufficient notice of their shift patterns so they can make arrangements well in advance. Changes at short notice should be avoided.
• The remuneration paid to those working nights should properly reflect the likely additional costs of childcare and inconvenience that night shifts can entail.

With these pointers in mind, night work can be a useful path to take and not necessarily negative as long as the worker is being treated fairly.