When Clocks Go Back, Night Shift Workers are the Hidden Victims

October 27, 2015

Clocks Go Back

This weekend, many of us enjoyed an extra hour in bed thanks to the clocks going back. Alright, you might have just stayed up an hour later and got up at the same time as normal anyway (gee thanks, body clock) – but either way, the clocks going back is a time of year when most of us celebrate ‘gaining’ an hour of free time on the sly overnight.

But did you know that for a pretty significant minority, the clocks going back is actually a time of misery? I’m talking, of course, about the night shift workers!

Why Some Night Shift Workers Get a Raw Deal When the Clocks Go Back

This year, the clocks went back at 2:00am on the 25th October 2015.

Did you know that a lot of people who work night shifts actually end up having to work an extra hour as a result? That’s right – instead of celebrating an extra hour of free time, some night shift workers are actually told to start their shift according to British Summer Time (BST), and finish their shift according to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)! An 8pm – 8am shift suddenly becomes a 13 hour shift, and workers have to watch the clock strike 2 twice! Some of the people affected can include:

– Doctors and nurses or other NHS staff

– Emergency services workers

– Bar staff at pubs and clubs

– 24/7 call centre operatives

– Security personnel

There are many more. Of course, not all night shift workers are affected by the extra hour – some companies in the private sector don’t have to stay open that extra hour, and indeed some choose to shut one hour early, and only consider the time change come the following day. Of course, just as many companies do stay operating an hour longer, because it means an extra hour of revenue (particularly entertainment venues that are only licenced to sell alcohol until a certain time).

But for people running vital services like hospitals and fire stations, there is simply no option – they must stay running, and that hour has to come from somewhere!

Is This Really a Problem?

For some people, working an extra hour once a year isn’t actually a problem. In fact, some employees who work on a per-hour payment basis quite like the longer shift – there’s an extra hour of pay to look forward to.

But what about salaried staff? It might seem a bit petty to argue one teeny weeny hour extra across a full year, but it can still feel really unfair when you know your colleagues who have the night off are enjoying the same benefits as you, but without the pain of an extra-long shift.

Employers: How do You Make This Fair for Your Night Workers?

If you are an employer and your staff are affected by the extra-long shift length when the clocks go back, then we’d love to know what you do to try and make it fair. Please leave your ideas and processes in the comments box below – we’d love to discuss them with you.

Here are a few ideas of our own:

Extra-Short Shifts Next Time the Clocks Change. This one is obvious – any person who worked the extra-long shift should get first grabs at the extra-short shift when the clocks go forward. Of course, it’s not always possible to plan shifts quite so far in advance…

Bonus Payments for Affected Staff. Pretty simple but effective – offer a cash incentive to sweeten the deal for any staff who have to work the extra hour, or even double pay for the entire shift (maybe not!).

Special On-Shift Rules to Make it More Bearable. Another idea is to add a bit of a fun twist. If the job role allows it, consider relaxing your uniform rules for the duration of the extra-long shift. Or maybe bring a cake in, and cut it up the second time the clock strikes two!

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