top of page

What is the impact on employees' health by working night hours?

Many industries are reliant on a shift system as they are a 24/7 industry or cater to the nightlife of an area. This means that there are employees who work as night workers for these industries, and although it can be a system that works for them due to lifestyle or other responsibilities, being a night worker can have an impact on their health.

Night work refers to any work that is conducted between the hours of midnight to 7 am the next day, and to qualify as a night worker if 50% or more of your working hours are between the night work hours. Examples of night workers are emergency responders, nurses, bartenders, security guards, etc.

The main effect night work can have on a worker is that their body’s internal clock (circadian rhythms) will be disrupted which can make it difficult to sleep and create fatigue, or other health issues. If it gets to this point it can create a domino effect in the worker's job and social life. If a worker experiences fatigue it can reduce their reaction time and ability to stay aware while on the job. This can increase the risk of making a mistake or having a workplace accident which would affect the worker's performance, potentially causing them to be written up or lose their job if the station is serious enough. In terms of their social life, working the night shift means that the worker would have a different schedule to their family and friends meaning they might not have the ability to see them as often. For some people, this may not be an issue but for others working these types of hours could create a sense of isolation as they’re not able to have a social life that aligns with others, which then will affect their mental health. These aspects of a worker's life are connected, even if they are not feeling fatigue the effects on their mental health cause also affect their work performance or even if they have friends who have similar schedules their fatigue could make it harder for them to socialize.

Managers should take steps to ensure they are supporting their night workers, prioritizing their health over the hours they do at work. During night work shifts a manager should ensure that each worker has regular rest periods so their workers can have enough energy to get them through the shift. If they feel it is necessary, managers could also suggest the employer reach out to their local GP to get advice on their health. On top of this, employers and administrations should also consider implementing policies that support workers in achieving a work-life balance, these policies could be flexible scheduling to decrease the number of night hours or giving time paid off so workers can give their body rest.

Both employers and employees have a responsibility to assure that working night hours is not severely affecting the worker's health. This way the workers are still able to work hours that suit their schedule without taking the risk of compromising their health.


bottom of page