Union calls for UK night workers to get more rights for health and wellbeing

Union calls for UK night workers to get more rights for health and wellbeing

Commuters in London have had a tough week this week as the second Tube strike in as many months bought the capital to a standstill.  Members of RMT, TSSA, Aslef and Unite, are striking over negotiations for the implementation of the night Tube from 12 September. The negatives of working a night shift has long been debated and the number of employees working them has grown since the recession, with over 3 million employees regularly working at night in the UK.

A Hard Day’s Night, a new report published by the TUC this week to coincide with the London tube strike over pay and conditions for the upcoming night service, examines the negative impact night shifts can have on work/life balance and family life.

The report looks at negative health benefits associated with working at night including heightened risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. It also shows that working anti-social hours can negatively affect an employee’s home life, increasing the risk of relationship problems, higher childcare costs and impacting the emotional wellbeing of night workers’ children.

If you employ night shift workers, here are some Healthy Performance top tips to help you can pass onto your workforce to hemp them stay productive and healthy:

1. Avoid giving staff  frequently rotating shifts. If you can’t, it’s easier to adjust to a schedule that rotates from day shift to evening to night rather than the reverse order.

2. Physical activity is good for general wellbeing anyway, and it will set your employees up for a decent “pre-nightshift” sleep. 

3. Ensure your employees drink plenty of water and eat food (real food, not just junk).  A great initiative is to provide your night shift staff with water bottles.

4. Just like with a day shift, drinking caffeine during the second half of a shift reduces the chances of sleeping when employees get home. Encourage your employees to plan their caffeine. 

5. If employees realise they are too tired to drive home, then tell them DON’T. Strike up a good working relationship with a local taxi firm for a swift and cost-effective service that can help out in emergencies. 

6. Eyes react to sunlight. Employees could invest in black-out curtains or an eye mask for daytime sleeping. Employees should also avoid artificial light such as smart phones and tablets.

7. Employees shouldn’t use alcohol to help them sleep. Alcohol is a sleep inducer but it will disrupt REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep which impacts on how rested and functional we are on waking.

8. Anyone working a night shift should avoid committing to plans during the day because daytime people expect them to – they’re living their lives in reverse.

9. Keep your workplace brightly lighted to promote alertness. 

Healthy Performance offer Educational Workshops which form an important part of an organisations wellbeing programme. We can help reinforce key messages related specifically to a subject matter of your choice including Sleep, Hydration, Nutrition & Diet, Weight Management, Stress Awareness and plus many other issues that you feel would be beneficial to your organisation. For more information please contact us.  

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