IT WAS NO BANK HOLIDAY FOR THOUSANDS OF SMALL BUSINESSES

BILL JAMIESON

Hope you all had a great Bank Holiday break – lovely weather (for most), a break from the working drudge and time off to spend on our hobbies – or just chilling out.

But for many it’s a case of “Dream on”. Over the past five years we’ve seen a surge in small businesses and self-employment.

The reality of running your own business or chasing up new work contracts if you’re working on your own often means that Bank Holidays are an early casualty.

A growing number had no Bank Holiday at all yesterday. While most in full time work get a well-earned break, it’s just another day at work for small business owners.

Research for LDF, a leading provider of finance advice and services for SMEs carried in yesterday’s Daily Mail found that for three in every four small businesses it was just another day.

Four in ten say public holidays have become irrelevant to modern business needs. And for many the “Bank holiday” is spent chasing admin, catching up with emails – or, in this writer’s experience, wrestling with the glitches, frustrating dead ends and baffling protocols of Windows 10, fast gaining the title of Time Bandit of the Year.

According to the research, 30 per cent of SME owners regularly take 10 or less days of holiday each year – and three per cent claim to take no holiday at all.

It found Glasgow was among the top three UK cities where people work the hardest on Bank Holiday. Brighton and Cardiff were just a pip ahead, with 95 per cent of SMEs saying they would be clocking in.

As for holiday sacrifice by occupation type, those working in “human resources” were most likely to be working over Bank Holiday, with a remarkable 89 per cent saying they would be in the office – human resources while others had time off, human remains by the time Tuesday comes along.

This group was closely followed by architects and engineers (87 per cent of small firm staff at work) and 86 per cent of health professionals.

Several mega trends are working towards the decline of the traditional Bank Holiday. One is the relentless growth of Britain’s service sector – not just rising numbers employed in leisure, hotels and catering but a rising army of workers servicing the IT sector where coverage is expected 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Another is the growing number of self-employed and small firm entrepreneurs, many of whom have parted company with large well-established companies to work on their own.

An increasingly popular business model now is for companies to have fewer people on the full-time payroll at head office and instead contracting out work and projects to smaller firms and specialist suppliers.

And the third is a desire to break away from the crowd: millions of people taking to the roads and railways at the same time, going to the same seaside resorts – and returning home bumper-to-bumper on a Sunday or Monday evening.

For years this holiday dash for millions has proved the perfect time for French air traffic controllers, or baggage handlers or haulage drivers or petrol station suppliers to down tools and go on strike, causing mayhem and misery for those trying to get away for a relaxing break. It can prove anything but.

Spending the holiday weekend filling in tax forms, or grinding through paperwork – or battling with Windows 10 glitches and protocols is no-one’s idea of fun. But a growing number are just getting on with it as the “new normal”.

It helps, of course, to de-clutter the desk and get ahead of the curve before work resumes for millions on Tuesday morning. And for many the freedom to run their own business gives them more control of their lives.

More often than not, it proves to be a more popular and worthwhile way to earn a living. As for “work/life balance”? Save it for wimps – and the two hour traffic queues to get home – knackered.

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