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Working At Night

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 Oct 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Night Shift Night Workers Night Work

There are certain regulations that apply to employees who work at night. These apply to all employees be they permanent members of staff or casual workers.

The regulations define night time as the period between 23.00 and 06.00 although this agreement can be slightly varied between employers and workers. A 'night worker' is classed as someone who works for at least 3 hours during this period.

Generally, night workers:

  • Should not work more than 8 hours in any 24 hour period, averaged over 17 weeks
  • Cannot opt-out of from this limit unless it is allowed for by a collective workforce agreement, although in some cases you can average night work over a 26 week period
  • Must be offered a free health assessment before they begin night work duties and on a regular basis after that
For some workers - those Working with Hazards or under mental or physical strain - there can be no averaging at all - the 8 hour limit must be strictly adhered to.

In general, workers under 18 are not permitted to work nights, although there are quite a number of exceptions to this rule and you can find out more from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

It is an employer's duty to comply with the night work regulations. They should keep records to ensure workers do not exceed their night working limit along with records of their employees' health assessments for 2 years or, if they didn't take up that offer, you should record the date the offer was made.

How to Adapt to Working at Night

A human's body clock was designed to be awake during daylight hours and to sleep at night and many night workers have experienced difficulty in adapting to the changes in working at night and sleeping during the day. There are no clear solutions to this problem but some good tips include:
  • Adapting to your new time frame as quickly as possible by timing meals and other activities to match the new 'day'.
  • Exercise can often sort out body rhythms. You could try starting your new 'day' with a brisk jog or by cycling. This may mean doing your exercise at 10 o'clock at night when most people are start thinking about getting ready to go to bed but it has proven to have been beneficial for many night shift workers.
  • Although not always possible, studies have shown that a short nap in the middle of a night shift can help maintain or improve performance later on in the shift. Perhaps, you could consider this during your longest rest break within your shift.
  • One of the most common complaints about adjusting to night shift work is the difficulty some people find in sleeping during the day. It is just as important to try and create the same relaxing environment as you would normally do if you were sleeping at night. Your room should be well ventilated and not too hot. It should be as quiet as it would be at night so if you have a family, they should consider your needs sympathetically. If need be, you should install black-out window blinds so that your bedroom is as dark as possible and consider ear plugs and sleeping masks for your eyes, such as those you might get offered on a plane.
  • When eating on the night shift, choose smaller portions rather than a heavier meal which can make you feel tired and sluggish and can sometimes cause heartburn and try to avoid late night caffeine as this can have an adverse effect when you get home in the morning and are trying to get to sleep.

It can often be extremely difficult to survive the night shift, especially if you work day shifts too and have to switch between the two on your rota and working nights can have a big impact on your health, both physically and emotionally. However, if you can adopt a routine, still get enough quality sleep, eat the right foods, maintain social ties, and keep physically active - most people find that they can usually adapt well to working the 'graveyard' shift.

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I am to work 3twelve hour night shifts finishing at 7 am on Monday morning. I am then too work a days on Tuesday at 7am . Is that enough rest period?
Stinger - 25-Oct-18 @ 10:52 PM
I work 3 days 3 nights 3 off which is 06:00 - 18:00 and 18:00 - 06:00 and then 3 days off done this for 2 years now I've opt out of reg hours and with only 2 of us on all times but my boss said and with a referendum saying that if cover don't turn up in the morning we need to stay on and not to contact office or managers until after 07:30am then wait another 30 mins or so for relief is this legal??
mikey - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:07 AM
I'm working 8 nights in a row from 10 to 7 which are the usual nights hours. Is working 8 nights in a row illegal.
Nad - 24-Aug-18 @ 10:53 PM
Hello. I am working wedneday to sunday 37.6hour over 4 nights thats 9hrs 40 min a shift. So Is it possiable to do 36.50 hours over 5 days coming straight of nights going onto the monday next day? As they tell me sunday is my day off. The qustion i saying how can it be when sunday is a sleep day as i am working from 12 till 7.25 into that day. This is through the nhs. Am i in my right say it is unble to do?
Stevo - 17-Aug-18 @ 8:32 AM
Hi, Is it possible for me to work a 12 hour night shift, have 12 hours off (sleeping etc) then do another 12 hours? So over 48 hours do 24 hours night shift? Thanks, Mike
Mwill - 15-Aug-18 @ 1:36 PM
Exhaused Day and Nig - Your Question:
Hi, I've just come off 6 consecutive night shifts in a row (all 10 or 11 hours). I finished my last of the 6 night shifts on the Friday morning. I have Saturday off but then I have been told I need to come in and work a 7.5 hour day shift on the Sunday.I am currently looking for other employment as the company I currently work for is really taking advantage of me as a worker to an extent that you could call exploitation. I am wondering if this kind of rota that I am working (6 nights, one day break, then a longer day shift) if illegal or just unethical?I never opted out of any working regulations, didn't undergo any health tests before doing night shifts and my contract is just a 20 hour for days (although when I've asked to only do 20 hours I have been put on almost twice that and scolded for only wanting my 20 hours). Any help as to my predicament would be great.

Our Response:
If your contract is only 20 hours it's unreasonable of your employer to make you work longer than that on a regular basis. Night workers must not work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24-hour period. The average is usually calculated over 17 weeks, but it can be over a longer period of up to 52 weeks if the workers and the employer agree, eg by collective agreement - regular overtime is included in the average. Calculate the hours you've worked and if you regularly work more than than average of 8 hours in a 24 hour period, your employer is in breach of the night working rules. Citizens' Advice or ACAS will be abel to help.
SafeWorkers - 13-Aug-18 @ 9:59 AM
Hi, I've just come off 6 consecutive night shifts in a row (all 10 or 11 hours). I finished my last of the 6 night shifts on the Friday morning. I have Saturday off but then I have been told I need to come in and work a 7.5 hour day shift on the Sunday. I am currently looking for other employment as the company I currently work for is really taking advantage of me as a worker to an extent that you could call exploitation. I am wondering if this kind of rota that I am working (6 nights, one day break, then a longer day shift) if illegal or just unethical? I never opted out of any working regulations, didn't undergo any health tests before doing night shifts and my contract is just a 20 hour for days (although when I've asked to only do 20 hours I have been put on almost twice that and scolded for only wanting my 20 hours). Any help as to my predicament would be great.
Exhaused Day and Nig - 11-Aug-18 @ 3:19 AM
Vix - Your Question:
Hi, I work 13hrs shifts days and nights. 2 each per week. It’s waking nights and we are upstairs on a bed with no chair provided. Just the bed and floor, the work we do is heavy lifting so looking after ours back is a must. We find it impossible to sit on the floor for this length of time and to lay on the bed in this heat with out dropping off to sleep. Theirs 3 of us on nights and we are all struggling. We have a baby monitor that’s crackles so it’s difficult to hear downstairs when he calls us between 10-30 times a night. Are these conditions acceptable?

Our Response:
We can't say whether specific conditions are acceptable or not. This all depends on the risk assessment that's been done etc. Talk to you employer...have tou ask for a chair? Have you complained about the monitor etc?
SafeWorkers - 6-Aug-18 @ 3:23 PM
Hi, I work 13hrs shifts days and nights. 2 each per week. It’s waking nights and we are upstairs on a bed with no chair provided . Just the bed and floor, the work we do is heavy lifting so looking after ours back is a must. We find it impossible to sit on the floor for this length of time and to lay on the bed in this heat with out dropping off to sleep. Theirs 3 of us on nights and we are all struggling. We have a baby monitor that’s crackles so it’s difficult to hear downstairs when he calls us between 10-30 times a night. Are these conditions acceptable?
Vix - 4-Aug-18 @ 9:54 PM
Shifty - Your Question:
I have worked permanent nights on my contract for 4 yrs I am now nocturnal can they switch me to days

Our Response:
This depends on the terms of your contract. If you contract says you can be asked to do night or day shifts then you can't easily refuse. Talk to your employer about renegotiating your shifts/contract if you feel you're more suited permanent nights.
SafeWorkers - 27-Jun-18 @ 10:27 AM
I have worked permanent nights on my contractfor 4 yrs i am now nocturnal can they switch me to days
Shifty - 26-Jun-18 @ 12:37 AM
Andyjok - Your Question:
Hi I work a constant night shift 7.45pm till 6am on Monday and 6pm till 6am Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. Finishing Friday morning until Monday night. My job requires a lot of heavy lifting. Up to 40x25kg bags have to b lifted into a machine every hour. Would these hours be legal. Thanks andy

Our Response:
The hours you are working are legal. Night workers must not work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24-hour period. The average is usually calculated over 17 weeks. If you feel lifting 40 25kg bags onto a machine every hour is unsafe you raise a formal complaint with your employer.
SafeWorkers - 20-Jun-18 @ 12:30 PM
Hi I work a constant night shift 7.45pm till 6am on Monday and 6pm till 6am Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. Finishing Friday morning until Monday night. My job requires a lot of heavy lifting. Up to 40x25kgbags have to b lifted into a machine every hour. Would these hours be legal. Thanks andy
Andyjok - 16-Jun-18 @ 6:17 PM
MATTYMOO64 - Your Question:
Hi,Long story,i'll try and be brief.I work in grocery shop.I have worked for the company 13yrs. + They knew I'd had cancer when I started,also osteoporosis and depression.Last yr.(15mths. ago) My back 'went',,mths. of mri's. x-rays,physio.I now have Osteoarthiritis. 6mths. ago,also diagnosed with copd.was off work from Jan.2017 till March.2018. I am back at work,as of march. 5th. 2018.got ssp. for 8mths. my contract was for 18hrs. a wk. but boss decided I should do a 'phased' return. so I have been doing only 3x3hr. shifts instead of 3x6hr.Got sent to see occupational health last month.she has sent in a report saying she cannot see me being able to do more than this in the future!!!! And I will most likely have more time off in the future than other employees!!! I do not know where she got that from,certainly not me.As it was supposed to be a 'phased' return to work, Can the company 'force' me to sign a new contract? I have a meeting with the area manager on Mon.11th. june. and want to have as much info. as poss.thanks in advance.

Our Response:
You may be the subject of discrimination under the Equality Act. Osteoarthritis is not classified as a disability under the terms of the act but if you've previously had cancer as well it could be. Long term depression can sometimes also be classified as a mental illness under the terms of the act. Firstly talk to your doctor or consultant and ask for medical details to support your case to work for longer then contact your trade union or ACAS and explain that you want to appeal your employuer's decision.
SafeWorkers - 13-Jun-18 @ 12:21 PM
I work night shift in security 7pm- 7am should my company provide a toilet or heating and lamp? I feel like a dog at work pissing on a busy Not being able to wash my hands
Jonnu - 12-Jun-18 @ 9:44 AM
P.S. TO THE ABOVE..i AM WILLING TO 'UP' MY HRS. TO 4.5,,PER. SHIFT....
MATTYMOO64 - 9-Jun-18 @ 2:44 PM
hi,Long story,i'll try and be brief...I work in grocery shop..I have worked for the company 13yrs. + They knew i'd had cancer when i started,also osteoporosis and depression..Last yr..(15mths. ago) My back 'went',,mths. of mri's. x-rays,physio...I now have Osteoarthiritis.. 6mths. ago,also diagnosed with copd....was off work from Jan.2017 till March.2018. I am back at work,as of march. 5th.. 2018.got ssp. for 8mths. my contract was for 18hrs. a wk.. but boss decided i should do a 'phased' return.. so i have been doing only 3x3hr. shifts instead of 3x6hr...Got sent to see occupational health last month..she has sent in a report saying she cannot see me being able to do more than this in the future!!!! And I will most likely have more time off in the future than other employees!!!I do not know where she got that from,certainly not me.As it was supposed to bea 'phased' return to work, Can the company 'force' me to sign a new contract? I have a meeting with the area manager on Mon.11th. june.. and want to have as much info. as poss...thanks in advance...
MATTYMOO64 - 9-Jun-18 @ 2:40 PM
NikkiW247 - Your Question:
Hi. This is on behalf of my partner. He works in a mental hospital (best way I can describe it). He works 12hour shift that vary from day and night. Well at the moment he has done Saturday and Sunday night 12hours each. And was meant to then start again on Wednesday but when he went in on Sunday night noticed that his shifts had been changed without his knowledge and he now has to do all way upto Wednesday night 12hour each. So that is sat, sun, mon, Tues and wed night 12hour shifts. Is this legal? And can they do this? He is contracted to 36hours a week.

Our Response:
Depending on how his shift pattern is contracted, the hours and breaks can be worked out as an average over 17 weeks - so that's the way he should make the calculation to see whether he is getting the correct breaks between work and/or working more hours than his contract. Note also, that some health based roles are exempt from the working time directive (but his contract terms will still apply).
SafeWorkers - 5-Jun-18 @ 2:49 PM
Hi. This is on behalf of my partner. He works in a mental hospital(best way I can describe it). He works 12hour shift that vary from day and night. Well at the moment he has done Saturday and Sunday night 12hours each. And was meant to then start again on Wednesday but when he went in on Sunday night noticed that his shifts had been changed without his knowledge and he now has to do all way upto Wednesday night 12hour each. So that is sat, sun, mon, Tues and wed night 12hour shifts. Is this legal? And can they do this? He is contracted to 36hours a week.
NikkiW247 - 4-Jun-18 @ 6:14 PM
Adam - Your Question:
I have been put on a night shift by my employer an 8.30pm-6am and then a 4.30pm-8.30pm that same day. Are they in the right to make me work this? I work in retail and In at night due to maintaince work so this is not my normal working hours

Our Response:
What industry do you work in? There are guidelines depending on your line of work.
SafeWorkers - 30-May-18 @ 2:55 PM
I have been put on a night shift by my employer an 8.30pm-6am and then a 4.30pm-8.30pm that same day. Are they in the right to make me work this? I work in retail and In at night due to maintaince work so this is not my normal working hours
Adam - 26-May-18 @ 5:11 PM
Ali - Your Question:
Hi I work with clients with special needs.my employer has asked me to stay over night with two male clients who can be violent.The other carer refused to go along as normally it is two male carers.can I refuse to go as I will be alone and have no way to leave as dropped off.is this even legal thanks for any help

Our Response:
You will need to check whether a risk assessment has been carried out and what precautions have been put in place. Please see our Guide to Your Rights When Working Alone for more information.
SafeWorkers - 5-Mar-18 @ 2:44 PM
Big al - Your Question:
Hi I work for a international hotel chain as a night porter I walk to work , but it has been snowing heavily and the pavements are treacherous, plus I'm on blood thinning tablets so any slip or fall could be fatal ; but my employer insists I come in for my shift ,Do I have a choice or do I just run with it

Our Response:
Check your contract first of all, just to be sure there are no terms that might relate to this kind of instance. Talk to you doctor and get advice on whether the walk to work would genuinely be a risk to you. If you usually walk to work and other employees have made it in, it's difficult for you to simply refuse.
SafeWorkers - 5-Mar-18 @ 11:45 AM
Hi I work with clients with special needs.my employer has asked me to stay over night with two male clients who can be violent.The other carer refused to go along as normally it is two male carers.can I refuse to go as I will be alone and have no way to leave as dropped off.is this even legal thanksfor any help
Ali - 2-Mar-18 @ 6:41 PM
Hi I work for a international hotel chain as a night porterI walk to work , but it has been snowing heavily and the pavements are treacherous, plus I'm on blood thinning tablets so any slip or fall could be fatal ; but my employer insists I come in for my shift ,Do I have a choice or do I just run with it
Big al - 2-Mar-18 @ 9:16 AM
Hi I’m looking for advice regarding the maximum amount of nights you can work and nights off. I am made to work 6,7,8,9 and sometimes 10 nights in a row (9 hours a night) and will often just get 1 night off afterwards, then back to work the night after and then I get another night off after that. My problem is that this is taking a great toll on my health and it is very frustrating to see the rota and my colleagues will have a normal 5 nights on, 2 nights off together. How do I gauge the subject to try and get the same treatment. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Tiredallthetime - 28-Feb-18 @ 10:14 PM
We have a workforce/collective agreement to opt out of the 10 hour night shift limit. This agreement was reached by a majority vote of roughly half the workforce (some who do not even work Night Shifts!) How can a majority vote carry that is HARMFULL to the minority that didn’t vote to OPT OUT ?
Night Owl - 6-Feb-18 @ 4:42 PM
LaLa - Your Question:
This didn't come out as intended. It should read:I want to work a schedule which suits me and my employer but I just want to make sure the neither of us are breaking the law. I am a Personal Care Assistant.Sun 8am to 7pm, Mon 7 pm to 8am, Tues 7pm to 8am Wed off, Thurs 7pm to 8am, Fri 7pm to 8am Sat off.

Our Response:
This is a total of 63 hours per week which is higher than the maximum working week of 48 hours. You can however, choose to "opt out" of the working time regulations. Note also that you may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you work in a job where 24-hour staffing is required.
SafeWorkers - 6-Feb-18 @ 3:29 PM
This didn't come out as intended. It should read: I want to work a schedule which suits me and my employer but I just want to make sure the neither of us are breaking the law. I am a Personal Care Assistant. Sun 8am to 7pm, Mon 7 pm to8am, Tues 7pm to 8am Wed off, Thurs 7pm to 8am, Fri 7pm to 8am Sat off.
LaLa - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:26 AM
I want to work a schedule which suits me and my employer but I just want to make sure the neither of us are breaking the law. The schedule is: SunMon TueWedThursFri Sat 08:00 19:00 19:00 08:00 19:00 08:00Off 19:00 08:0019:00 08:00 Off
LaLa - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:20 AM
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