Working for yourself comes with stacks of benefits.

From choosing how you work to who you work with, being self-employed gives more than 4.98 million people in the UK the opportunity to be their own boss.

The latest research from AIG Life has found that being self-employed might have unexpected health implications.

On the rise

Self-employment has been growing steadily in the UK for a long time.

With almost five million self-employed people, many see working for themselves as an opportunity to have more flexibility and greater control over their work.

There are some key differences between being self-employed and employed.

The way you pay your taxes, the regularity of your work and the control you have over it are all key factors in making the decision as to whether you’d like to work for yourself or not. 

Not making the time

One key difference is that if you’re self-employed, you aren’t entitled to holiday pay if you take a day off.

Of course, you also aren’t limited to the days you’re allocated by the company you work for either, but for every day you have off, that’s a day you don’t have the potential to earn money.

AIG life surveyed more than 2,000 people.

They found more than three out of four self-employed workers say they continue working even when they’re sick because they don’t feel they can take time off work.

Even worse, six out of ten choose not to take time off to look after their health. 

There's a feeling that the health service doesn’t cater for the UK’s self-employed workforce when they fall ill.

More than seven out of ten of those asked believed that only offering medical appointments between 9 am, and 5 pm on Monday to Friday isn’t sufficient for their needs.  

In a statement from the company, Debbie Bolton, Head of Customer Operations and Chief Underwriter at AIG Life said, “Working for yourself might seem to offer more flexibility, but we found many self-employed people feel they don’t have the space when it comes to organising medical appointments.”

“Many self-employed people will keep working when they are ill because they can’t afford to lose out on jobs. In addition to this, it is a challenge to arrange appointments at a time to suit them. 

“It is really important that the self-employed and business owners make time to look after their health their businesses, families and their livelihoods rely on them being well enough to work.

"If people want to enjoy a long time, it’s better to make time early on to check their health is ok as leaving it longer could mean they’re risking illnesses that could take longer to recover from.” 

More than just physical

It’s not just physical health that self-employed people need to focus on, taking time to look after your mental health is important too. 

One of the biggest worries for the self-employed is the financial insecurity that comes with not having guaranteed work. 

Leapers, a community group which aims to support the mental health of the self-employed, surveyed more than 500 self-employed people in the UK.

The findings were interesting...

Two of the biggest reasons for mental health deterioration and stress were the lack of control over work schedules (47%) and clients going quiet on them (71%), both of which can leave them at risk financially. 

Worrying about money can take its toll, especially with such financial insecurity. 

Male-dominated industries like construction and logistics contribute to this, with men making up the greater proportion of the self-employed workforce in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Combine this with the fact that men made up more than three-quarters of suicides in the UK; it needs to be taken seriously.  

Make sure you take the time to look after yourself using some of the tips below. 

 

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