Despite the lasting effects of the pandemic on employment, night workers continue to be an important part of the working population.

According to a report from the Night Time Industries Association, the night-time economy is now the fifth biggest British industry in 2020, making up a minimum eight per cent of the total UK workforce. 

So, what do employers need to know, and how can night workers’ health and wellbeing be protected?

What are night workers’ rights? 

Night workers must not work more than an average of eight hours in a period of 24 hours, with the average determined over a 17-week period.

As opposed to the 48-hour working week under the Working Time Regulations, night workers cannot opt out of this obligation, but they can decide on a longer timeframe (of up to 52 weeks) to calculate the average working hours with their employer.

Additionally, those aged 16 and 17 are not permitted to work between midnight and 4am.

There are also restrictions on working between 10pm and 6am, with exceptions in certain industries, such as retail and agriculture. 

It’s important to note that the law requires employers to keep correct records of hours worked and to retain these records for a minimum of two years.

What risks do they face?

According to findings, night workers are more at risk of mood disorders, sleep disorders and other negative effects on their health.

As well as this, it has been found that they are more likely to suffer health conditions such as heart disease, metabolic diseases, and certain cancers, often linked to disjointed sleeping patterns.

What do employers need to do?

Employers have a duty of care to all staff, but if an employee is susceptible to certain circumstances, then the duty of care for that person will naturally be higher.

If a night worker develops a health condition, the employer could face a personal injury claim if it can be attributed to their job, so ensuring the environment is safe, and employees are taken care of, is vital.

To avoid the risks associated with night working and lessen the risk of incurring liability, employers should:

  • Conduct frequent check-ins with night workers
  • Ensure that regular health assessments are completed
  • Keep records to show that they comply with working time limits
  • Provide support and guidance on looking after their physical and mental health.