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Small business owners are still not getting sufficient holiday

While they may still have time to book breaks, this is a considerable rise compared with last year, when less than three in ten (29 per cent) small business leaders in Britain did not take a holiday lasting more than five working days.

The survey by Zurich of over 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Britain also reveals that three quarters (74 per cent) of small business decision makers took 25 days or less of holiday last year, while almost half (48 per cent) took 20 days or less of holiday and almost a third (31 per cent) took 15 days or less.

In comparison, a survey of almost 300 larger businesses shows that holding back on taking time off is far less of an issue for key decision makers in big businesses.

Less than three out of every five (57 per cent) large business decision makers felt the need to take 25 or less days holiday last year, less than a fifth (19 per cent) took 20 or less days of holiday and less than one in ten (8 per cent) took 15 days or less.

Almost one in ten (8 per cent) small business decision makers did not take any holiday at all. Key decision makers at large companies were much more likely to take time off though, with just 2 per cent failing to take any at all, and the survey found that more than two in five (42 per cent) actually took more than 25 days of holiday in the last 12 months.

It seems likely that the weight of responsibility is the reason for the disparity between the amount of holiday take between senior staff in smaller and larger businesses. Half (48 per cent) of SMEs say that if they took more holiday than they currently do their business would be negatively affected, compared with just over a quarter (28 per cent) of decision makers at large businesses.

Holiday vs longer working hours

The survey does, however, reflect a greater scope for flexibility among SME decision makers than for those working in large organisations.

A little more than half (56 per cent) of small business decision makers admit working more than 40 hours a week, and one in five (20 per cent) works more than 50 hours per week.

Three quarters (73 per cent) of key decision makers at larger organisations work more than 40 hours per week and more than a quarter (26 per cent) work longer than 50 hours per week.

Some 24 per cent of small business decision makers say that they work a total of 35 hours per week or less, compared with less than one in ten (8 per cent) from large businesses.

Anne Griffiths, head of SME propositions at Zurich UK says that, while the common perception that working for yourself provides day-to-day flexibility appears to ring true, it is undeniable that running your own business is a balancing act.

‘Employees at larger businesses are reporting the freedom to take more holiday without affecting business operations, where smaller businesses are really feeling the strain in holiday season. The sheer responsibility of owning a business is clearly weighing heavy on business owners’ shoulders.

‘It is imperative that small business owners are making use of all the support available to them to make sure their businesses are healthy and stable enough to take some well-deserved time off.’

Further reading on holidays

Holiday leave and pay: The law


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