People who work at night should have better access to key 24-hour infrastructure, according to a new report.
As many as one in nine people work at night, the highest proportion of the workforce since Office for National Statistics records began in 2005. But most are denied equal access to services and infrastructure which are available to day-time workers, such as transport and childcare.
The Working Nights report, published by progressive think tank Autonomy, suggests that employers and local authorities should fund all-night city rest centres for food delivery drivers, cleaners, warehouse and retail workers, and sex workers.
Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, told the Observer: “The UK has witnessed an explosion of precarious gig economy night-time work but without any infrastructure put in place to cater for these workers. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on unfair and precarious working practices and night-time workers are suffering from a basic lack of dignity with nowhere to go at night.”
Between orders and in quieter times, food delivery drivers are encouraged to wait in areas to ensure there are enough riders in the right locations to meet orders when required. Riders often congregate near busier restaurants so they can quickly respond to orders.
The report says they spend the majority of their working time either on the roads or waiting for food orders, without access to common facilities where they can rest indoors, eat, use toilets, take protection from bad weather, change clothes, store belongings, or charge the phones and bike lights they rely on to take and complete orders.
The report recommends that local councils should establish autonomous night work assemblies “to enable democratic control over the spaces and infrastructures that house night-time activities”.
The authors also suggest a Night-time Living Wage to reflect the higher costs of working at night, including the lack of affordable childcare, the negative health effects of irregular sleeping patterns, and the cost and time associated with reduced commuting options.