For most, the month of May granted three bank holidays. Three extra days to go for a walk, catch up on laundry, or have a very boozy weekend. With 31 days in May, only 20 of them were working days for people in conventional employment. For the vast number of people who describe themselves as self-employed or freelance, we were curious to find out if their working days adhered to the bank holiday convention.
The Whisky Bond’s Instagram audience were asked how they take their bank holidays, if at all. Only 6% of our audience said they took the bank holiday off and the rest said they treat them as a normal work day or worked according to what projects they have on at the time.
One Instagram user said ‘I usually forget when the bank holidays are!’, whilst a coworker claimed ‘I like working on bank holidays as it’s quieter so I feel like I can get ahead.’
With the potentially precarious financial situation of being freelance, you must often complete work before being paid. Oftentimes deadlines are fast approaching and work must be completed regardless of the Spring bank holiday.
Our Instagram audience were also asked if they found it difficult to take bank holidays.
The overwhelming majority agreed that yes, they find it difficult to take bank holidays.
‘FOMO is too real’ one Instagram user commented. The Fear Of Missing Out is too real when friends and family have plans to use their magical day off to sit in the sun, while you are working away indoors regardless of a national bank holiday.
To navigate the fabled work/life balance, we know it is important to take time off and give ourselves space to breathe, yet freelancers still find it difficult to take holidays. Employees are legally entitled to 28 days of holidays every year, yet freelancers were found to take just 24.
Ipse 4 conducted a study of over 900 freelancers, asking them how they take their time off, finding that ‘nine out of ten freelancers (92%) say that taking time off has at least some positive effect on them’, such as feeling less stressed or anxious and improving personal relationships.
Whilst for many freelancers the idea of taking a bank holiday Monday as a day off seems like a dream, never mind three in one month, taking time off in general is essential. Although finding ways to improve our work/life balance remains difficult as a freelancer, one of the benefits of being freelance is that workers can reflect on their schedules and mould them to make sense for themselves. They can understand when they are best suited to work on different aspects of their practice, proving that self-employed working days can be flexible and joyful, without rigid working hours to meet.
Take this as encouragement to take one of those next bank holidays off!