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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Evening and Night Workers in London

Think of London at night and a vibrant city, buzzing with culture and variety, springs to mind. This means that, for many Londoners, evenings and nights are a time for work.

We have refreshed our evidence on the capital’s Evening & Night (E&N) workers – first published in 2018[1] – to consider how changes since the pandemic have affected this part of London’s labour market. This article reviews emerging findings from analysis presented at the London at Night conference in January 2023[2]. We also include findings from a recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) publication[3] to compare against the broader UK picture[4].

Despite recent falls, London’s E&N workers remain a large part of the workforce

Around 1 in 4 (26%) people working in London were E&N workers in 2022. This means there were roughly 1.37 million people working in London who said that it was usual for them to work in the evening or the night (irrespective of whether they also worked in the day).

The total number of E&N workers in the capital has declined in recent years, however. The total was down from a high of 1.6 million E&N workers, or 30.7% of London’s workforce in 2017 (Figure A1). While the share of E&N workers in London has historically been higher than most other regions, the share fell slightly below the overall UK average of 27% in 2022.

Figure A1:

Most E&N workers do not work nights, but those who do often work shifts

In 2022, the majority of London’s E&N workers (Figure A2) exclusively worked a combination of days and evenings (776,000 or 57% of all E&N workers). The next largest group were those working a combination of days, evenings, and nights (439,000 or 32%). Overall, around 40% of London’s E&N workers worked nights to some degree in 2022. Most of those workers (53%) were in jobs which involved shift work, which suggests that they do not always work nights but rather experience shifting work patterns depending on workplace scheduling.

Figure A2:

The number of E&N workers in Professional occupations rose alongside an increase in home working

Despite the overall decline in numbers, some occupations have seen growth in the number of E&N workers since 2017 (Figure A3). Elementary service occupations, which includes jobs such as cleaners and private security guards, saw an uptick in E&N workers, particularly in the number of people who work nights rather than evenings. Despite being a relatively small occupational group in London overall, 27% of those who work nights are in Elementary administration and service occupations.[5]

However, it is Professional occupations, particularly within business, media and public services, which saw the largest increases in E&N workers since 2017, driven by people who worked evenings. This resulted in Professional occupations accounting for the largest share of E&N workers among all occupational groups in London.[6] As much of this increase occurred from 2020 onwards, it could reflect changes in working practices associated with hybrid working. Workers in Professional occupations are more likely to work from home in some capacity than workers in other roles[7], which may afford them the opportunity to choose working patterns that provide the best work-life balance.[8],[9]

Figure A3:

The share of women and older workers is increasing in the E&N workforce

More than half (57%) of London’s E&N workers were men in 2022. However, the share of female E&N workers has been rising over the past five years, from 38% in 2017 to 43% in 2022.[10] Around 20% of E&N workers in London work part-time, which is relatively unchanged since 2017, and is similar to the share of part-time workers resident in London overall.[11]

By age group, those aged 25-44 made up 50% of London’s E&N workers in 2022, though this had fallen from 52% in 2017. Instead, the age group 55-64 saw an increase in the E&N workforce share from 12% to 16% across the same period; both reflect trends in the UK overall.

For more analyses on London’s labour market, see GLA Economics’ Datastore.

[1] GLAE (2018) London at night – an evidence base for a 24-hour city.

[2] See the GLA Datastore.

[3] ONS (2023) The night-time economy 2022.

[4] Analysis based on respondents of ONS’ Labour Force Survey (LFS) April-June datasets, whose place of work is in London. We define Evening & Night (E&N) workers as those who usually work in evenings and/or nights, regardless of daytime work patterns. Respondents to the LFS are not given guidance as to what constitutes ‘evening’ and ‘night’: while GLA’s Night Time Strategy defines evening hours as 6pm-12am and night hours as 12am-6am, people in this analysis are not necessarily using those particular hours.

[5] Overall, around 6% of people working in London in 2022 were in the SOC sub-major group (the second-highest SOC grouping) “Elementary Administration and Service Occupations”.

[6] Professional occupations (a top-level SOC group) accounted for 31% of London’s E&N workforce in 2022, up from 24% in 2017.

[7] ONS (2023) Characteristics of home workers, Great Britain.

[8] In early 2022, three-quarters of home-working respondents to an ONS survey reported improved work-life balance as an advantage of home working. Source: ONS (2022) Is hybrid working here to stay?.

[9] Across all E&N workers in London, 22% worked from home in 2022, up from 9% in 2020, compared to 15% of all UK workers (up from 7%).

[10] This is despite the share of female workers living in London remaining steady across these years (at 45-47%) based data from the ONS LFS (April-June). Note: these figures are based on workers who live in London.

[11] 19% of London residents in employment worked part-time according to the Annual Population Survey July 2021-June 2022 dataset.