More than a million night workers could get a pay rise after a TUC bid to change the law.
A last-minute move to change employment laws going through Parliament would see them receive a minimum of £10 an hour.
Nurses and carers are among 1.2 million who earn less in spite of the unsocial hours.
The TUC is urging Employment Minister Therese Coffey to make an urgent amendment to legislation, currently in the Commons, to boost night workers’ pay.
It says many barely receive the minimum wage of £8.72 an hour for over-25s and £8.20 for younger workers.
The TUC wants tighter protections for working conditions and a ban on zero hours contracts for employees doing vital jobs.
The call comes ahead of a move by Labour MP Paula Barker to change the law to ensure that those entitled to the minimum wage receive it. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working through the night is tough, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“We all owe Britain’s night workers a huge debt for keeping the country running while we are asleep.”
A TUC analysis of Office for National Statistics figures reveals that nurses and care workers are the most likely professions to work nights.
Just under a quarter of a million nurses and 424,000 carers, mostly looking after the elderly, regularly work overnight.
The North West has the highest number of night workers, with London close behind.
Night workers suffer damaging health effects of irregular and anti-social hours, including a bigger risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression, according to the TUC survey.
Ms Barker, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, will this week introduce a Commons Bill to tighten up enforcement of the minimum wage.
She said: “We need to end, once and for all, the scandal of workers being discriminated against and denied their full entitlement under the law.”