One in three business owners works excessive hours

One-third of freelancers and micro-business owners work longer than the UK maximum of 48 hours per week but most say they are happy with their work-life balance.

New research by cloud accounting software company FreeAgent, released to coincide with National Work Life Week, shows that many self-employed people in the UK are working excessively long hours.

However, in FreeAgent's poll of more than 500 freelancers and micro-business owners, 30% of respondents said they worked more than 48 hours per week on their business, while 5% admitted that they spent more than 64 hours each week working.

In a previous poll carried out earlier this year, FreeAgent also found that 38% of respondents said they had not felt able to take a holiday of at least a week in the previous six months.

However, despite the long hours and lack of holidays, many micro-business owners say they are content with their working life - with 74% saying they have a good work-life balance.

Ed Molyneux, ceo and co-founder of FreeAgent, said: "Many people start their own business because they see it as an exciting opportunity to escape the 9-to-5 life and be their own boss. Although many freelancers and micro-business owners enjoy more flexibility over when and where they can work, our research shows that they are actually likely to work just as many hours as people who are not self-employed - and sometimes a lot more. That's because they have to manage all of the admin and behind-the-scenes parts of their business, not just the parts that they get paid for."

Overwork can have an impact on wellbeing, warns Molyneux. "For some people, running a business can be so consuming that they don't even manage to take a proper break. We found that more than a third of the people we spoke to hadn't felt able to take a week's holiday in the past six months - which means they could potentially be risking fatigue through being overworked and, as a result, putting their businesses in jeopardy."

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