Research by Free Agent has shown that 82% of respondents who own micro-businesses said that they have worked through illnesses because they couldn’t afford to take time off. Owners and staff of 5.2 million micro-businesses in the UK are therefore working without the normal benefits enjoyed by other companies.
The research is unsurprising, but the results are also pretty lousy, especially when placed in context with other payment challenges such as the inability of many micro-businesses and small businesses to protect owners and staff financially from unexpected situations. Surprise pecuniary matters such as providing sick pay, maternity and paternity leave pay, and holiday or redundancy pay are all problems for smaller businesses that don’t have the safety nets of larger companies. Statistics like the one above are no revelation, but underscore the uncertainty that constantly suffuses the lives of micro-business owners.
Depending on the type of company each of the aforementioned benefits was rated differently in terms of importance, for example, sole traders rated sick pay provision higher than limited companies.
The nature of owning a micro-business seems to innately have the connotation of long working hours and financial instability, the latter both generally and specifically regarding benefits for owners and staff. Although some volatility is inherent, working through illness can damage health conditions further and for many business owners, they don’t feel they have a choice.
For illnesses and disabilities that affect work, you may be able to claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) which you can find out more about here. For a guide to sick pay for employers, click here.
Have you experienced working through an illness as a micro-business owner due to financial pressure? Let us know what happened, how you dealt with it, and any advice you have for others in a similar position on our social media accounts.