A UK think tank has said that all-night city rest centres should provide night-time workers with “dignity” and shelter from bad weather. In a new report, Autonomy called on employers to collaborate with local authorities to fund safe spaces for workers to visit at night between shifts and during quiet periods.
The rapid rise of the gig economy has left many workers without access to staff rooms, toilets, and opportunities to meet each other. This has led to particular concerns over the treatment of drivers, who are often foreign nationals of colour working zero-hour contracts.
The report found that one-in-nine employees in the UK now work at night, the highest proportion since records began. Many are denied equal access to services available to daytime workers, such as childcare, healthcare and common indoor facilities to relax, store belongings, access healthy food and use the toilet.
The services would be provided in the rest centres funded by employers but “autonomously” operated, and the measures would help “revert the exploitation of night-time workers and democratise the night-time economy” the report said. Director of research at Autonomy, Will Stronge said, “The UK has witnessed an explosion of precarious gig economy night-time work but without any infrastructure put in place to cater for these workers.”
Stronge said that 24-hour rest centres would provide safety and respite for night-time workers, and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, should work with night-time employers to introduce them in London.