How To Take Time Off When You’re Self-Employed

how to take a holiday if you're self employedWith no legal entitlement to holiday pay, taking time off can be a challenge for the 4.8 million self-employed people working in the UK. Often when not working for clients, there is a lot of administration and accounting work that needs to be fulfilled. However, with careful planning and organisation of accounting duties, taking time off shouldn’t be difficult.

In this blog, we’ll cover ways you can take valuable time off whilst self-employed without sacrificing client satisfaction or revenue.

The Benefits Of Taking Time Off

If you are working for yourself, you are working hard to complete projects for clients as well as bring new business in. In most cases working as a self-employed person you have chosen the lifestyle to do something you enjoy and are highly skilled at. With the self-employed being more satisfied with their jobs than employees, and the lack of holiday pay, you may feel like you do not need or shouldn’t take time off. But everyone needs some down time for rest and relaxation, also there are proven benefits of doing so, including:

  • Time to nurture personal relationships with friends and family.
  • Alleviation of stress and anxiety.
  • Can lead to increased productivity on your return.
  • You may experience less restless nights and disturbed sleep.
  • Not giving yourself time off can lead to mistakes and lower quality of work.

Here are some ways to plan for your time off, to minimise disruption to your business and your customers:

Advise Your Clients You’ll Be Taking Time Off

Simply setting your email autoresponder up on the day you leave isn’t going to leave a good impression with clients who may have work they need completing urgently. Instead, send a personalised email to each of your clients well in advance informing them that you will be taking time off, this enables them plenty of time to plan for your absence.

As an extra measure, you can include your holiday dates in your email signature, post onto your social media profiles and personally remind your clients closer to the date – you may also find it useful to give out an emergency number to certain clients.

Hire Another Member Of Staff

If you are the only worker in your business it could make sense to employ someone who can cover for you whilst away. Rather than coming back to hundreds of emails and missed calls, taking on another member of staff to respond to emails and man the phones is a sensible option for the self-employed. This member of staff can keep you in the loop, contact you in the event of an emergency and give you a head start on your return to work.

Hiring your first employee comes with a range of legal processes that you must follow, take a look at our first employee checklist to ensure you don’t get caught out:

  1. Ensure that you pay them the correct amount – you can find the current rates of National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
  2. Check if your candidate has the legal right to work in the UK.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check.
  4. Get employment insurance – you will need this as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Give a written statement of employment to your employee (if you are planning to employ someone for more than 1 month).
  6. Register as an employer with HMRC.
  7. Check your auto-enrolment obligations.

If you’re unsure about recruiting your first employee and need advice and information about the processes and obligations involved – please do give us a call on 0117 379 0810.

Get Help With Your Accounts

Keeping accurate and detailed records of your accounts will not only save you time but also ensures you don’t receive an unexpected penalty from HMRC. Hiring an accountant relieves the pressure of accounting when you’re self-employed, enabling you to take stress-free time off without needing to worry about accounting obligations.

Complete Your Self-Assessment Early

Speaking of accounting, completing and submitting your self-assessment tax return is one of the biggest accounting duties the self-employed have. Knowing that you have this covered prior to any time off will be a weight off your mind. Preparing and submitting this as early as possible takes the burden away and helps you avoid any fees for late submissions. The timeline for self-assessment tax returns is as follows:

6th April – HMRC will send you a reminder to complete a tax return around this time following the end of the tax year.

31st October – Deadline for paper submissions.

31st January – Deadline for electronic submissions.

With such a long deadline, it can be tempting to leave submission until the last minute – but this can result in mistakes which could lead to late submission. Many of our clients use us to submit their self-assessment tax return on their behalf – ensuring it is filed and completed on time and without error.

Avoid Taking On Large Contracts 

When you are self-employed, it’s easy to say yes to every work opportunity, but taking on large jobs before you have a holiday planned is likely to disrupt either the holiday or the work.

If you are offered a job that will start before your holiday, explain to the client that you have a holiday planned but would be delighted to start work upon your return.

Need A Hand?

At First Call, we believe that accounting isn’t something you should have to worry about – that’s why we work proactively with clients to help them achieve their goals – from the self-employed to large corporates.

Whether you are confused about payroll or auto-enrolment obligations when taking on your first employee or need a hand keeping your accounting records in check – we can help, give us a call on 0117 379 0810 for a friendly, no obligation chat with one of our expert team.

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Steph Roffey

Steph is a Chartered Accountant with many years’ experience working in audit compliance and general accountancy. She is a Fellow of the ICAEW and has extensive knowledge of accountancy and tax for the self employed.
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