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Co-op calls for mental health support for night shift workers

The Co-op has unveiled a manifesto aimed at improving the mental and physical health of night shift workers.

Put forward to Parliament yesterday, the manifesto calls upon retailers and policymakers to better protect the health of night-shift employees – a population of some 7 million people that made up 54% of key workers at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Co-op worked with the Wellcome Trust and Liminal Space to devise the report, which highlights relationship, friendship and sleep difficulties regularly experienced by night shift workers.

According to the Co-op's own research, night shift workers think of themselves as the forgotten or invisible workforce, and are twice as likely to miss out on key family events. In addition, 1 in 3 are getting less than five hours sleep a night in comparison to 1 in 6 day-time workers.

The manifesto calls for companies to eventually be held legally responsible for the effects of night work shifts on staff.

The report sets out a series of 'template' goals, referred to as 'the five R's':

  • Recognise night shift workers and champion night workers as a coherent group

  • Respond to their needs – place night shift workers at the heart of any solution

  • Respect and understand that they face a specific set of challenges in a variety of working conditions

  • [To be] Research-led – build an evidence-base to implement evidence-based solutions

  • Raise their profile and mobilise a cross-industry response to mitigate these challenges

“Sleep is something that unites us all – we all need it and we all know how terrible we can feel without enough of it," said Andy Perry, Co-op’s Supply Chain and Logistics Director. “Yet whilst our round-the-clock culture is propped up by a growing number of people who work through the night, their contribution to society goes largely ignored.

“It is essential that we, as employers, do everything in our power to establish a recognised framework of best practice which places the interests of nightshift workers at its heart and that policy is put in place to protect their physical and mental health.”

With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, employees from all backgrounds are feeling the strain on their mental health. According to recent research, work-related stress has surged across the UK and Europe, while 2 in 5 UK business leaders have 'self-medicated' to aid their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.


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