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The older you get, the harder you work.

The older you get, the harder you work.

A new study of more than 350,000 UK shift workers shows that older workers put in more shifts and work longer hours than their younger colleagues - up to 45% more to be precise.


London, July 2021: Leading workforce management app, Deputy, has released its Shiftwork Economy Report, which provides an analysis of 11.5 million shifts worked by more than 350,000 UK shift workers between January 2019 and May 2021.

The data - which spans the healthcare, hospitality, retail and services sectors - shows that workers in their 60s have been putting in almost 45% more hours than those in their early 20s.

According to the report, in the world of shift work:

  • The average Baby Boomer (57-75 years old) is aged 61, works 30 shifts each month (some involve multiple shifts on the same day), with an average shift length of 8.2 hours. They worked around 58 hours a week through the pandemic with a higher proportion working in healthcare.
  • The average worker from Generation X (41-56 years old) is aged 47, works 28 shifts each month, with an average shift length of 8.2 hours, and works around 55 hours a week.
  • The average Millennial (24-40 years old) is aged 31, works 26 shifts each month, with an average shift length of 8 hours, and works around 49 hours a week.
  • The average worker from Generation Z (under 24s) is aged 22, works 18 shifts each month, with an average shift length of 7.4 hours, and works around 32 hours a week.

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Older health and social care workers, in particular, have been going the extra mile to support the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Baby boomers in healthcare increased their working hours in March 2020 by 72% and Generation X by 64%, compared to a 28% and 15% increase for Millennials and Generation Z healthcare workers.

David Kelly, General Manager for EMEA at Deputy commented: ”Health and social care workers of all ages have worked incredibly hard to look after our nation in the past 18 months. These figures show that we need to distribute the workload more evenly and to attract more young people into these roles to future-proof our workforce. One way to make these essential roles more attractive to young people is to treat our shift workers with more respect, pay them fairly and provide them with more protection and predictability of when they will be working.”

The report also highlighted a huge disparity between the hours rostered and hours worked for shift workers in all age groups. On average workers almost did double their scheduled hours (averaging between 45% and 48% more).

David Kelly added: “Although the government completed a consultation on regulation, to provide more protection and predictability for employees, the legislation has not yet been implemented. The absence of stability, chaotic last-minute shift scheduling, and regularly needing to work unplanned over time, can contribute to financial, emotional and family stress. This sort of scheduling gap makes the workforce dependent on last-minute shifts to keep food on the table and is a barrier to inclusivity in employment.”


Download a copy of the report:

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2021 Shift Work Economy Report UK SWE-Report-UK-2021.pdf - 7 MB

The methodology behind Deputy’s Shiftwork Economy Report

The Shiftwork Economy Report 2021 was produced by the leading scheduling software platform, Deputy, utilising Deputy customer data. The report features an industry-focused data analysis of UK shift workers across the hospitality, healthcare, retail, and services industries. Data was collected over a January 2019 - May 2021 timeline. 356,847 UK-based shift workers were analysed by Deputy, as well as 12,474,594 scheduled shifts and 11,499,257 worked shifts.

Industry Sample Set: 

  • Hospitality – 58,101 shift workers, 2,570,948 scheduled shifts and 2,439,190 worked shifts. 
  • Healthcare – 52,224 shift workers, 2,982,061 scheduled shifts and 2,745,029 worked shifts. 
  • Retail – 34,140 shift workers, 1,621,968 scheduled shifts and 1,428,461 worked shifts. 
  • Services  67,915 shift workers, 1,826,437 scheduled shifts and 1,520,108 worked shifts. 

The data has been normalised to account for seasonality and demand of workforce fluctuations throughout the week (e.g. weekday versus weekends).



About Deputy

Founded in 2008, Deputy’s mission is to make it easy for workplaces and employees to navigate the changing world of workforce management. The company simplifies scheduling, timesheets, tasks, and communication for business owners and their workers. Deputy’s software navigates workforce legislation calculating correct wages, entitlements, and penalties - keeping your business compliant and employees protected.  More than 250,000 workplaces globally are leveraging Deputy to make it easier for millions of shift workers to manage their work lives. 

For more information, visit www.deputy.com, or find us on Twitter, Facebook, the App Store or Google Play.

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