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Working At Night

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 26 Nov 2020 | 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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My job forced me to do night shifts when I explained to them that I had twice surgery on my goitre thyroid gland function and my blood test was positive but they put me to work night shift after that I had side effects like dizziness weakness, heart was beating faster and I hadn't slept for the next 24 hours.
Rachid - 26-Nov-20 @ 9:37 AM
I work a pattern of 5 x 12 hour night shifts (18:30-06:30) and regularly have to do an extra hour (at least once a week.I’m also a lone worker driving around a site. My job title is driver. I’ve asked if this is legal and have been told to suck it up and do as I’m told because “the law states an 8 hour break from the workplace”.I’ve also been refused health checks as I’m agency. I’ve been here nearly 18 months.
Geordie67 - 11-Nov-20 @ 3:15 AM
Do we have to attend training? I work 23:00 - 07:00 and I have been told that I must attend training at 2pm after a night shift, my colleague will be coming in for his shift that night.
san - 8-Nov-20 @ 1:11 AM
I work from 9pm to 5:30am. I have a mandatory meeting the next day at 1pm and that only gives me like 7 hours of sleep. Do I still have to show up to the meeting that will probably last like an hour and a half.
Irvin - 14-Sep-20 @ 9:52 AM
10 8 hour night shifts in a row, hotel. 11 till 7. My 4 days off over the 2 weeks were put at the opposite ends of the weeks. Do I have any right to complain? Seems like a long stretch.
Riley - 12-Sep-20 @ 10:01 PM
I am expected to do sleep in nights at a children's home sleeping either in the dining room or the office, where I will be the only adult female sleeping caring for 4 children in the home. The home is employing a waking nights gentleman who doesn't speak much English, who will be able to access all areas while I am asleep. This is making me feel very uncomfortable.
jules - 10-Sep-20 @ 7:11 PM
Useful info, thank you. Some of these comments are shocking! Know your rights, and speak to HR or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Your health and well-being come first, don’t let anyone bully you.
MJ - 29-Aug-20 @ 8:45 AM
Can my employer make me sleep on a camp bed in the lounge of the care home I work for as there isn't a second bedroom for staffto do sleep ins
Juls - 19-Aug-20 @ 12:39 AM
I work Monday till Friday on a Monday tue wed 9pm till 9am and on Thursday Friday 5 till 9pm so when I finish my shift on a Thursday morning at 9am i have to come back to work at 5pm till 9pm is that legal it doesn't feel right
Fraser - 7-Aug-20 @ 8:03 PM
looking at the 8 hrs working limit for night time shifts. If night time is 23.00 to 7.00 then you can't work more than 8 hrs in 24 hr period. I work at a dock .very hard manual work and work 12hr shifts from 7pm to 7 am so I presume its how they get around the law
rock - 1-Aug-20 @ 12:03 AM
My normal working hours are 6am-2pm. Is it possible to do overtime from 2am-2pm?
Tyler - 28-May-20 @ 11:54 AM
I drive a truck 12 hours 10pm until 10am 5 days a week.... Sometimes I'm forced to stay on until noon, how come non of the night work regulations apply to me?
Glyn - 5-May-20 @ 11:04 AM
My employer has removed the use of a staff flat for sleep-ins in a residential care home and advised we will he sleeping in the living room of the residents flat. Is this legal? What does an employer need to provide staff on a sleep in shift?
Lisa - 25-Apr-20 @ 2:01 PM
I’m a Support Worker I do sleep in’s I start work at 14:00 and finish at09:00but my mangers are saying that when I finish at 09:00 it is a day off. I have said to them it is not a day off because I’ve finished work at 09:00 and it is classed has a rest day I’m I right
Jen - 5-Apr-20 @ 9:09 AM
I have worked 3 nights in a row. I work in a retail superstore.Should the employer pay me for any extra for unsociable hours after a specific time. I started my shifts at 8pm till 7am next day
SupsrSteve - 30-Jan-20 @ 8:41 AM
work 10 hour waking nights ( 21.00 to 0700hrs) and have been tasked with the responsibility of finding someone to cover a shift by tomorrow morning ( someone phoned in sick at 23.30 hrs). If no one is available I have been told that I will have to stay till someone comes to cover the shift. Is this legal ??
None - 22-Sep-19 @ 2:07 AM
I work 10 hour waking nights ( 21.00 to 0700hrs) and have been tasked with the responsibility of finding someone to cover a shift by tomorrow morning ( someone phoned in sick at 23.30 hrs). If no one is available I have been told that I will have to stay till someone comes to cover the shift. Is this legal ??
None - 22-Sep-19 @ 2:05 AM
I am working from 3pm till 1am 8 days in a row, is this acceptable? Im 19 so I am aloud to work past midnight but it is putting a physical strain on me.
Stacenellie - 12-Sep-19 @ 2:36 PM
I work 2 days at weekend 9 till 6am and others work 5 days we have been banned from booking holiday from early Nov until mid Jan and also Easter. Are they allowed a 3 month ban on holidays esp for night workers
RL - 30-Jul-19 @ 4:25 AM
Hi, I'm working as night porter in a hotel 10 pm to 6.30 am.i have overloardheavy duties all my during the work.is that legal?
Chari - 28-Jul-19 @ 12:38 PM
So i work waking night shift and i was just wondering the once my shift has ended my employer wants me to then go and do a care call i do 19.00 till 07.00 is this right or is there some thing i can do about this
Colly - 14-Jun-19 @ 5:15 AM
Hi I have have my working shifts changed recently so now my working hours are 23.00-07.30. I was told at the start of working these shifts that I would have every Monday and Tuesday night off but after a couple of weeks of working these hours they have now started splitting my days off up, for example this week I am off Monday night and Friday night. Are there any working laws that state I should be having a certain amount of working hours off together now because having my days off split is a real struggle with regards to my sleeping
AmIRight? - 10-Jun-19 @ 8:52 PM
I work 15 hour shifts starting at 6pm until 9am, I am expected to come in at 9:30 am on the day of said shift to do training which is also unpaid. Surely this is wrong?
D - 1-Jun-19 @ 11:23 PM
I worked from 18:00-05:00doing overtime then they changed my time punch to 17:00-04:00. I'm wondering if its because a labor violation and I'm supposed to be paid more for working after 04:00. I work in long beach ca.
Nick - 24-May-19 @ 9:20 PM
I’m roasted in to work Saturday and Sunday 20:30 - 4:00 then Tuesday a 4:00 - 16:00 meaning I will be working till 4am Monday morning and having to be in work Tuesday morning at 4am. Is this legal?
Em - 9-May-19 @ 4:46 PM
I am on a fazed return to work 1 day a week ... I usually work Fri Sat one week wed thur the other and now have been given Sunday night shift as my first back (which I don't usually work) and then Wednesday as my second week. Because I'm working nights and don't finish until Monday will this count as I have infact worked Monday?.... also the gov site is saying Sunday to the following sat midnight is the working week can anyone confirm
Kimmy - 27-Apr-19 @ 4:09 PM
I work full time nights 5 nights a week, don’t have any weekends cause of my stuck rotar and I work 01:30am till 10am any one know if I have any rights for well being or somthing please
Bugsy - 25-Apr-19 @ 10:28 PM
I work permanent 12 hour nights - 3 days per week - 36 hours per week. How is my average worked out for the no more than 8 hours in 24 over a 17 work period. Is it worked out on the total number of days in a week - 7 - so on average I will be working 5.14 ours per day? Or is it worked out just on the days I work - so 3 days per week so the relevant average is 12 hours per 24 hour period?
Branchy - 12-Apr-19 @ 12:04 PM
Hi I work night is it legal to work a 12 hour shift then an hour after finishing being told to do a days training
Jimmy - 11-Apr-19 @ 1:02 AM
Hi i work in hotel as a duty manager. and we make reports and files work , which is normally done while standing or mostly siting. but recently they change the rule they said you cannot sit any more you have stand outside all the time. and you have to make reports outside at the front desk all the time. and the problem is the from desk computer is really uncomfortable. and i got pain in my hand and back. and when i go home i got too much pain in my feet. it look like my feet killing me even cant sleep 1st 2 hours. so i would like to ask is it legal to stand all night while if we hurt pain etc etc? 2nd: if no so what can i take action about that ? 3rd : if i bring chair and sit outside and saw that so are they able to fired me ? Looking forward for your reply. Kind regards Mike
Ali - 8-Apr-19 @ 3:58 AM
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