A new survey by the leading tax advisory service for contracting professionals, Qdos Contractor, has found that, while contractors tend on average to take less time off annually than full-time employees in the UK, over half of them are satisfied with the amount that they do take.

The study found that 54 per cent of umbrella company employees and other contracting professionals are satisfied with the amount of time that they take off from work annually, even though 68 per cent take less leave than conventional full-time employees.

On average, full-time employees are entitled to 28 days of paid leave annually. Only 32 per cent of the 715 contracting professionals polled took anywhere near this amount at 22 or more days per year.

Other points uncovered by the study are as follows:

  • 16 per cent of the contractor respondents take under ten days of annual leave.
  • 27 per cent take between ten and 15 days per year.
  • 25 per cent reported that they take between 16 and 21 days per year.
  • 32 per cent allow themselves 22 or more holiday days per year.

Commenting on the findings, Qdos Contractor CEO Seb Maley said: “That the majority of freelancers and contractors are happy with the amount of holiday they take each year reflects that independent workers are by and large enjoying a healthy work-life balance, despite the fact that at least 68 per cent do not take as much holiday as full-time UK employees.

“This dispels any myth that freelancers and contractors do not work as often or as hard as full-time employees, while also highlighting that independent workers are, more often than not, available when businesses need them most.”

Although the majority of the freelancers surveyed said that they are content with the amount of annual leave that they allow themselves, 46 per cent said that they do not take enough holiday leave each year.

Of these:

  • 30 per cent actively prefer to “work and earn instead.”
  • 30 per cent say that they “cannot afford” additional time off.
  • 20 per cent say that they are “too busy” with work assignments to take more holiday leave.
  • 15 per cent fear losing a contract by taking additional annual leave.
  • 5 per cent cited “other reasons” for not taking more leave, such as “just starting out” and “difficulty switching off.”

Maley conceded that some contractors understandably face difficulties in taking more time off. He said: “They’re inclined to want to work when projects are available, sometimes find difficulty in switching off and worry they don’t have the financial confidence and security to take more of a well-earned rest.”

He also noted that IR35 reforms had contributed to the feeling amongst contractors that they lacked the financial security to take more leave.


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