Three in ten self-employed people work long hours

Many self-employed people in the UK are working excessively long hours without taking any holidays but most say they have a good work-life balance according to the findings of a new poll.

Almost a third of micro-business owners work more than 48 hours a week according to research from cloud accounting software company FreeAgent.

Its survey of more than 500 freelancers and micro-business owners has found that 30% said they worked more than 48 hours per week on their business, while 6% admitted that they spent more than 64 hours each week working.

In addition, 44% of respondents said they had not felt able to take a week or more of holiday in the past six months.

However, the poll also revealed that many micro-business owners are content with their working life - with 74% saying they felt they had 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 nine-to-five life and be their own boss. But although those who have taken the plunge generally say that running a small business gives them a good work-life balance, it's important to remember that self-employment can be very hard and challenging."

Long hours are part of the job description for many business owners that have to juggle lots of different tasks, he said. "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."

A recent survey into SME wellbeing suggested that business owners that don't take holidays risk burnout. "For some people, running a business can also be so consuming that they don't even manage to take a proper break," said Molyneux. "We found nearly half 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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