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Mayor calls for better deal for night workers

12 November 2018

THE MAYOR Sadiq Khan has called on employers to improve pay and working conditions for London’s night-time workers as new world-leading research shines a light on the changing nature of the capital’s thriving night life.

In a first for a global city, a comprehensive new study by City Hall and the Night Time Commission paints a detailed picture of London at night, the workers keeping the city moving, and how the capital’s nocturnal habits are changing. 

The landmark report reveals that 1.6m Londoners – a third of the capital’s workers - usually work evenings and nights and that jobs in the night-time industries are growing faster than the wider economy.

However, more than half a million in occupations where they are likely to work at night, including more than half in the culture and leisure sector, are earning below the London Living Wage. 

Those working at night are most likely to be male, aged 45-49 and living in inner London. The sectors employing the most employees at night are the health services, professional services and culture and leisure. 

The findings show that two-thirds of Londoners are regularly active at night, including running errands and socialising and that there has been an increase in restaurants, cafes and takeaways open at night. However, the research also reveals that Londoners are drinking alcohol less regularly, and alcohol-related crime has fallen significantly in the last eight years.

The report lays bare the barriers preventing many people from making the most of London at night, with a third of Londoners saying activities are too expensive, while women, disabled people, and those on lower income feel less safe. 

Overnight visitors to London spent £16.2bn in 2017. Four out of five visitors to the capital say culture and heritage is the main reason for their visit, and this research shows that going to restaurants is the most popular night-time experience for visitors, followed by sightseeing, going to pubs, the theatre and shopping.

With demand for night time activities and services expected to rise from Londoners and visitors, this valuable research will be used by the Night Time Commission and Night Czar Amy Lamé to help shape the Mayor’s Vision for London as 24-hour city. The Mayor appointed a Night Time Commission to research what London is like between 6pm and 6am and provide recommendations on how London can become one of the world’s most forward-thinking night-time cities.

Sadiq is committed to ensuring that London’s night-time culture meets the needs of all Londoners, and has pledged to plan for life at night in the same way the city does for the day. His work has already included teaming up with local authorities and developers to help safeguard night-time economy and culture venues, including setting up a Night Time Borough Champions Network, chaired by his Night Czar. He also launched the Night Tube and Night Overground.

Earlier this year, Night Czar, Amy Lamé, and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, called on organisations, businesses and councils to join the Mayor’s Women’s Night Safety Charter and help ensure women in the capital are safe at night. The charter sets out guidance for venues, operators, charities, councils and businesses to improve safety at night for women. This includes better training of staff, encouraging the reporting of harassment, and ensuring public spaces are safe.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “There’s no doubt that the night-time economy is a key part of the success of our capital, but this world-leading research shows the hugely significant role it plays in the lives of Londoners and visitors. We live in the greatest city in the world, but as jobs and the demand for services at night grows, we have to make sure London is a city that works for all Londoners at all hours. We’re working hard to create a life at night that meets the needs of everyone, but we need employers to step up and ensure the welfare of their employees by paying them the London Living Wage. Every Londoner is entitled to a to a decent standard of living – no matter what time of day or night they work.”

Night czar Amy Lamé said, “London has long been renowned for its thriving life at night, but until now there has been little research about what Londoners and visitors specifically do at night. This report shows the reality of how many people work at night and what Londoners and visitors want from their free time. We’re determined to make sure the capital works for everyone at night – whether you’re working, shopping or going out – and we will use this report to deliver the Mayor’s vision for London as a 24-hour city.”

Kate Nicholls, chair of the Night Time Commission, said, “The late-night sector is a crucial component of the UK’s hospitality industry and London’s night life is world-renowned. The Mayor is determined to support late-night businesses and establish London as a truly 24-hour city. The Night Time Commission was established to support the Mayor’s work and we both recognise the importance of a thriving night time economy in the capital. It is imperative that decisions to mould the city’s night life are taken as a result of clear and robust research, and we are very pleased to publish the first London at Night report to enable this. The report is a first for a global city such as London and we are confident that it, and subsequent reports, will be used to promote a thriving and lively late-night industry.”

Sam Gurney, TUC London, East and South East regional secretary, said, “Every night while we sleep, hundreds and thousands of workers are busy keeping London running. Whether it’s security guards keeping watch or midwives looking after new mums and babies, we all depend on Britain’s army of night workers. But night work takes its toll and can disrupt family life. So, we should show our appreciation for night workers by ensuring they are paid fairly and have good rights and protections at work.”

This week is Living Wage Week and on Monday, Sadiq announced that the London Living Wage is increasing from £10.20 to £10.55 per hour. Sadiq is determined to make London a fairer and more equal city and that’s why later this year he will be launching his Good Work Standard. The Good Work Standard will support employers in adopting best practice and achieving high standards in areas of such as workplace diversity, flexible working, health and well-being, skills development and ensuring employees’ voices are heard at all levels of their organisations.