Your work-life balance is getting seriously out of hand: A million small business owners can't afford to take a single day off work this summer

Catherine Neilan
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No rest for the wicked. Or the small business owners (Source: Getty)
Heard the one about work-life balance? You know, how you get to spend time with your friends and family and enjoy the summer while it lasts?
Probably not if you're a small business owner or sole trader. A major new study of more than one million people found that a fifth of Britain's entrepreneurs can't afford to take a single day off work this summer.
A further 30 per cent will only be able to have a summer holiday if they stay at home or within the UK in order to keep tabs on their business.
On average, self-employed workers get less half the statutory amount of holiday of 20 days each year, even when accounting for bank holidays.
It's not just holidays – almost half of small business owners cancel plans with friends or family at least once a week before work, while more than half a million don't even bother arranging anything “purely because they are too busy with work to commit to them”, the study carried out by Simply Business said.
And all this is having a knock-on effect on health and wellbeing. A quarter of those surveyed admitted to falling ill due being overworked and stressed
It's not all bad – two-thirds of respondents said their working life let them fix their hours to make it work around family life. Three-quarters of parents said they worked unconvential hours to juggle commitments like making the school run.
But it is enough to cause concern for mental health charity Mind, which suppored the study.
“Too many small business owners are failing to make enough time for their lives outside work, often sacrificing holidays and social activities with family and friends,” said Emma Mamo, Mind's head of workplace wellbeing. “Having a good work-life balance, including regularly having time off, is key to staying mentally healthy.
“Consistently working long hours and managing an excessive workload can take their toll on our physical and mental health, with the potential to negatively affect business performance... It’s in the interests of all small business owners, and employees more generally, to ensure that they give as much priority to their personal life as they do their jobs.”
Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood added: “The time and effort needed to survive can be punishing so it is all the more important for small business owners to ensure they balance their work with a social life to prevent getting run down and ultimately putting their business in jeopardy.”

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