NIGHT WORK risks wrecking families and draining parents’ stretched finances to pay for childcare, the TUC warned yesterday.
More than three million people now have to work nights — up 200,000 since the bankers’ crash in 2007.
Almost one in eight of us now work in the small hours. Nearly 15 per cent of men work nights, compared with 9.7 per cent of women — though the proportion of women doing night work is increasing much faster.
Experts have long warned that shift work, particularly nights, can be disastrous for people’s health. It has been linked to heart problems, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer.
But a TUC report said that not enough attention had been paid to its disruptive effect on people’s family and social lives.
It cited a study which showed that shift work led to “a greater level of marital problems and divorce, and behavioural and emotional difficulties with children.”
The TUC researchers also warned of “significant additional costs … for those with children who have to make special arrangements” — such as single parents who cannot leave their child alone overnight.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that “we all value night workers” and so must make sure their sacrifices are met with “sensible rights and protections.”
She condemned bosses who force night work on people — such as in the current London Underground dispute — and urged employers to restrict nights to the minimum, negotiate properly with workers’ unions, give staff advance notice of and some control over rotas and ensure shift pay accounts for the extra costs that such work entails.