Want a better work-life balance as your own boss? Study finds self-employed people take just 14 days holiday a year

Telegraph Reporters
A quarter said they worked longer hours than ever before - PA

Self-employed people typically take just 14 days of holiday a year and one in eight take no days off at all, according to a new study.

The research found that most become self-employed in the belief they will have a better work-life balance, but 27 per cent said they now work even longer hours while 21 per cent work as many as before.

The study of 1,000 freelance or self-employed workers found they typically find themselves "on duty" for 13 hours a day, looking at their first work email at 8.01am and their last at 8.55pm.

This amounts to 65 hours a week on average - almost double the average hours of those in full-time employment, according to the study by online accountancy firm Crunch. That is in addition to taking around half the amount of holiday time.

A third of those surveyed  (36 per cent) said they regularly skip meals to keep on top of their workload, while two-thirds (66 per cent) said stress means they frequently struggle to get to sleep.

Indeed, nearly half (41 per cent) are kept awake at night by worries about making enough money.

Self employed sick leave

Even when they give themselves time off - and a quarter say they take no more than five days a year - many cannot switch off.

Half (47 per cent) find themselves working while they are away, with 20 per cent saying they simply cannot afford to lose the money.

Being constantly on call also means catching up on work in strange places. Almost half (44 per cent) admitted they have sent a work email or taken a work call in an unusual or inappropriate place, with 13 per cent doing so in a public toilet.

Gig economy: Does it pay to be self-employed?

The study found 56 per cent chose to work for themselves to enjoy a better work-life balance. However, one in eight (12 per cent) now works at at least 11 hours a day.

Two-fifths (39 per cent) start the working day before 8am, and one in 20 (six per cent) as early as 4am.

Six per cent have even resorted to telling their partner they have had a nightmare to explain why they are up early looking at work emails.

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