Night shift workers' rights
The night shift allows employers to stay open and accommodate customers 24 hours a day. Working the night shift requires employees to work late and irregular hours.
These employees who work the night shift have safety rights that include proper job training and limitations to the number of consecutive night hours they may work. The health issues surrounding night shift workers can be risky for women, but this does not give employers the right to refuse night shift employment to female workers.
Night shift hours
A night shift is determined by the number of hours an employee works, and the time of night an employee works.
For instance, night time working hours are usually between 11pm and 6am. A typical night shift takes place during the hours of midnight and 5am. Working at least three hours between these hours is also considered working a night shift.
The number of hours an employee can work at night is limited, according to the Health and Safety at Work Act, and an agreement must be made in writing. An employee who works every night should not work more than eight hours in a 24-hour day.
Before starting a new job on a night shift, workers must be offered a free health assessment and then be assessed on a regular basis after that.
Employers must keep confidential records of night staff’s health assessments for two years. They also need to take into account that night work might increase a worker’s stress levels.
Women who work night shift hours should be warned that working at night could be linked to breast cancer. This, however, does not mean an employer can discriminate. A woman has the right to work at night, for equal pay, just like a man who is hired for the shift. If an employer discriminates against a woman for a night shift position, the employer is breaking employment equality law and can be sued by the employee.
It is a misconception that an employer is required to pay a night shift worker extra for working the night shift. An employee may be paid at a higher rate, if the employer agrees. However, most employers do offer more pay for a night shift worker because this is not the most favourable shift to work.