Holiday? We’ll grab a week if we’re lucky, say bosses

Seven in ten business owners predict they will take no more than five days off in the next 12 months, according to a new survey.

Over a third will take no time off at all, as the pandemic takes its toll on holiday plans for small business owners across the UK.

The research, undertaken by one of Europe’s largest small business lenders, iwoca, found that even in normal times less than four per cent of owners took the usual 25 – 28 holiday days that many employees are allocated, with more than half taking five or fewer days’ holiday and 10 per cent none at all.

There are 4.5 million businesses in the UK where the only employee is the owner. The survey suggests that nearly one in five of those report taking no holidays at all in an average year compared to eight per cent of businesses with 2 – 49 employees.

Niamh Keys: ‘taking toll on wellbeing’

This worsens again when we look ahead, with 44 per cent of single employee business owners predicting zero holiday days in the coming year.

Whilst many businesses have adapted their operations as a result of working from home, nearly have of owners wouldn’t be able to run their business if they had to quarantine for 14 days after returning from a holiday abroad.

Again it is the micro businesses that are affected the most, with half of all one-person businesses not being able to operate in quarantine, as opposed to 38 per cent with 2 – 49 employees.

I don’t do holidays. I get in the van and go to the beach and get up the next morning and come into the office

Samantha Guilfoyle, founder of S G Accountancy, said: “Holidays, I don’t do holidays. I get in the van and go to the beach and get up the next morning and come into the office. I haven’t got anybody that I can leave to run things. I can reduce my hours, divert my phone and take my laptop with me so I can still work if I’m out and about.

“It’s only in the past couple of years I’ve actually moved into an office. I was in danger of just working at home and not doing anything other than work. When somebody called me at home, I felt compelled to deal with it. I’d be on call 24-7.”

Niamh Keys, Head of People at iwoca said: “Many small business owners are quite rightly channelling all their energy into ensuring the future of their business. But, this could be taking its toll on their own wellbeing.

“Our research shows that they fully understand the value in taking time off to improve their mental health, yet concerningly, do not see themselves as being able to take much holiday in the future, perhaps due to financial concerns or the impact of COVID-19 on their business.

“As we all look to get through this unsettling period, business owners across the UK should consider how and when they are going to take some time off and prioritise their wellbeing.”

In June ONS data revealed that up to 19 million adults in Britain reported high levels of anxiety as a result of Coronavirus.

Dr Joshua Van der Aa