The myth that freelancers and contractors enjoy far more time off than employees seems to be just that; a myth. New research from Qdos Contractor has highlighted that at least 68% of UK freelancers and contractors take less than 22 days holiday per year, far less than the 28 days a full-time employee is given on average.
The research, according to Qdos Contractor CEO Seb Maley “dispels any myth that freelancers and contractors do not work as often or as hard as full-time employees, while also highlighting that independent workers are, more often than not, available when businesses need them most.”
On the face of it, that independent workers do not enjoy the same amount of time off as employees is a concern. The majority of freelancers and contractors do not see it this way however. Despite taking less leave than employees, 54% of the 715 freelancers surveyed believe they enjoy ‘enough holiday’, reinforcing the long-held theory that those in business on their own by and large, have a fairly healthy worklife balance.
That said, this doesn’t make up for the fact that 42% of freelancers take less than 15 days holiday per year, almost half the amount a full-time UK employee is given.
“Many freelancers understandably find taking time off difficult. From feeling the need to work when projects are available, to problems switching off, having the financial security and confidence to enjoy a well-earned rest is one of the most difficult aspects of self-employment,” Maley explained.
This hasn’t been helped by the Government’s recent moves to readdress the tax system, as Maley went onto explain:
“Unlike employees, freelancers and contractors are not entitled to paid annual leave, making it all the more important that the Government helps the self-employed maximise their earnings when working. Recent changes to IR35 and the UK tax system have somewhat reduced the financial benefits of working independently however, no doubt contributing to the 30% of freelancers who simply feel as though they cannot afford time off.”
Of the 46% of independent workers concerned they do not take enough holiday annually, 30% as mentioned by Maley stated they cannot afford the time off. More positively though, 30% did state they actively choose to work and earn instead.
20% deem themselves too busy to take holiday, signalling that in general contractors are in-demand, engaged in contracts and earning. However, 15% fear losing a contract by taking a holiday, while 5% put lack of holiday down to factors such as difficulty switching off and that they are relatively new to freelancing.
That marginally, those working for themselves are happy with the amount of holiday they take is positive news. But it’s clear from this research that more could be done to help freelancers and contractors maximise their earnings to enable an even better worklife balance.
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