That Sickly Feeling: New Survey Reveals 82% Of Small Business Owners ‘Can’t Afford To Take A Day Off When Sick’

That Sickly Feeling: New Survey Reveals 82% Of Small Business Owners ‘Can’t Afford To Take A Day Off When Sick’


It’s time of year again folks. The winter bugs, colds and flu are on their way to ruin your January.

Yet despite the tendency to take ill at this time of year, how many of you have laced up your work boots recently and forced yourself into work, not in some vain attempt to prove you can work through anything, but because being a self-employed tradesman means you simply can’t afford to take time off?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to a recent survey by FreeAgent, as many as 82% of small business owners have worked through an illness because they couldn’t afford not to. And while it seems to be the British mentality to get up and get on with it when you’re feeling under the weather, it seems that being self-employed means that, even if you are struck down with a bout of gastroenteritis (the winter vomiting bug), you’ll still try and pull yourself into work – which isn’t good for your health or those around you.

tradesman sick

No safety net

Speaking at the launch of the survey findings, FreeAgent CEO Ed Molyneux told the press that one of the key reason why so many self-employed people don’t stop to take time to recover is that they have no form of support in place should events like illness or injury occur.

“There is rarely any kind of safety net in place to protect you from the unforeseen,” he said, referring to a second survey which revealed 76% of small business owners had no means of ensuring payment for things like sick leave, maternity leave, or holidays.

The same report revealed the majority of self-employed people would prefer sick pay to any other form of benefits. Though there may be no signs of that happening in the near future, there are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t have to force yourself into work when you’re feeling rotten.

self-employed illness

What can you do if you’re ill as a self-employed tradesman?

At times, working through illness or injury may seem like the only option, but it’s hardly ideal if it means you end up even more sick or hurt in the long-run, and then have no choice but to take time off.

Proper rest and recovery are essential to ensuring you get back in top condition and performing at your best much faster, but that still doesn’t solve the problem of how your illness affects your finances.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do lessen the blow and support yourself without heading out to work.

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Employment support allowance (ESA)

ESA may be available to you if your illness or an injury impact your ability to work. Self-employed people are eligible to apply for this support, and applications can be completed online.

personal accident & sickness insurance

Personal accident insurance

Taking out a small personal accident & sickness insurance policy could prove to be a life-saver should the unexpected happen.

If sickness or injury put you on the shelf permanently, a lump-sum payout could be made to you, and if you’re out with a temporary injury, weekly cash benefits are available to support you until you make a full recovery.

contingency plan

Create a contingency plan

If there’s one thing worse than the immediate impact on your finances when you get sick, it’s the long-term damage to your reputation caused by not completing jobs, so you might want to consider getting together a short list of reputable sub-contractors you can trust to hand over projects to in an emergency.

The short-term loss of profit may be worth it in the meantime to protect your name and reputation in the long-run.

Meanwhile, you might want to consider putting a little away on a regular basis into an emergency savings account, so that you’ve always got at least some financial reserves on hand in an emergency.

Have you continued to work through sickness or injury? What advice would you give to fellow tradesmen for getting financial support when unable to work? Let us know in the comments below, or get involved on Facebook and Twitter.

Tradesman Saver also provides insurance for tradesmen and insurance for self-employed professionals covering a wide variety of professions. For further information, please see our Tradesman Insurance, Self-Employed Insurance or Who We Cover pages.

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