Contractor Working Hours

Contractor Working Hours: What’s Normal & What’s Too Much?

People in the UK are working longer weeks than those in any other EU country according to research by the Trades Union Congress. The study found that full-time employees in the UK worked an average of 42 hours a week last year. This is equivalent to an extra two and a half weeks per year and was almost two more hours than EU employees typically worked.

The study only covered full-time employees and did not divulge which industries the employees worked in. However, it raises questions about finding a work-life balance and whether overworking also applies to those who are self-employed or contractors.

If you work for yourself and feel that you never have enough free time and are overworked, then we’re here to help. Read on for our guide to contractor working hours, what’s normal and what’s too much.

What is the standard for contractors?

There isn’t actually a clear-cut answer to this question as it varies by industry. According to UK employment law, people in standard employment can’t work more than 48 hours per week. There are certain exceptions for jobs that require 24-hour staffing, or those in the military or emergency services.

This is where contractors differ, as they aren’t bound by the standard 48 hours and 9am-5pm rules. Contractors can choose when they work and how long they work for. Another factor is the contracts that contractors choose to accept. These contracts may cover any number of hours a week, depending on the client and the amount of work required by them. As a general rule, particularly for industries like IT, many contractors work around 35-40 hours per week.

That said, self-employed people have been found to work longer hours than standard employees. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, more than 13% of self-employed people worked more than 60 hours per week in 2014. This was compared to just 4% of employees working the same number of hours.

Is this normal?

Although contractor working hours per week depend on the individual and the industry, working more than employees seems to be the current norm. It is important to question whether a longer work week is actually beneficial to wellbeing, happiness or productivity. Many people would argue that it is not at all.

The research by the TUC argued that despite UK workers working more than EU workers, productivity was reduced. In similar economies to ours, workers were more productive in each hour they worked than UK workers. German workers were found to have worked 1.8 hours less per week, for instance, but were 14.6% more productive.

How can I tell if Im working too much?

The answer to this question varies from contractor to contractor. While some people are happy always being busy and thrive off pressure, others like a more evenly spread-out work schedule. No matter which category you fall in, you should try and make sure that not every week is so busy that you feel overwhelmed.

Experiencing frequent or constant stress can be detrimental to your ability to work effectively and can affect your wellbeing. Over time it can cause anxiety and mood swings and could increase your risk of serious issues like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Here are a few common signs that you may be working too much:

  • Always rushing to meet deadlines
  • Unsure how you will get all of your work tasks done
  • Working into the early hours of the morning
  • Feeling that you don’t have any time for activities outside of work

What can I do about it?

There are several ways to cut down your workload and build upon your work-life balance.

Reduce work

You could calculate your weekly or monthly incomings and see if you actually need to continue with the number of clients you have. If the work you do sufficiently covers your outgoings and you are comfortable financially, cutting down could be an option. If you need the full amount of work that you currently do, don’t worry.

Stay organised

Try to work out a more organised schedule for your working week and stick to it. Don’t procrastinate or leave work until the last minute. You could also try talking to your clients about the deadlines they need work by. If they want it at any point during the week, don’t commit to a day when you already have a lot of work planned. Work around ongoing projects when you get more work offered and keep track of your work diary.

Subcontracting

If you want to cut down your personal workload without turning down work you could consider hiring a subcontractor. If your budget allows it, consider outsourcing some of your work and working with another contractor or freelancer. That way you can maximise on your client connections and keep busy, but know that the extra work is being taken care of.

Umbrella companies

Sometimes, your ‘working hours’ can become dominated with basic admin like tax and invoicing. That’s not even mentioning the budgeting for your annual holiday leave or setting aside money for unexpected sickness. As a result, you spend less time doing chargeable work – what you do best – but still rack up the weekly hours.

With an umbrella company, all this is taken care of. They process your invoices and pay the correct amount of tax before sending you your take-home pay. Compliant umbrella companies also provide full statutory benefits like sick pay, holiday pay and a workplace pension.

Find the best umbrella for you

Like any product or service, umbrella companies vary in price and the features on offer. Using Umbrella Supermarket, you can find the best fit for you. Enter a few details like your typical monthly income and you’ll be given a range of quotes from leading providers including your estimated take home pay. Then, simply choose the best for you and enjoy life with more free time!

Would you like more information on Contractor Working Hours?

Explore More Resources

Using an Umbrella Calculator

The Pros of Using an Umbrella Calculator

There are many advantages to using an umbrella calculator for contractors.

Umbrella calculators allow you to quickly compare thousands of umbrella companies across the UK, offering a clear overview of what you will receive from the company, including everything from your take-home pay, what benefits you will receive, and what services the company will offer.

To help contractors find out more, Umbrella Supermarket outlines the main benefits to using an umbrella calculator in 2021.

umbrella vs limited

Umbrella vs Limited Company: What to know when making the move this new tax year

The 6th April 2021 marked significant changes to IR35 legislation which impacted thousands of self-employed, limited company contractors operating within the private sector.

In light of the changes that have now rolled out, many limited company contractors are understandably considering their options and thinking about making the move to umbrella this new tax year.

To help make the decision that little bit easier, in this guide Umbrella Supermarket outline what contractors need to know about making the move from limited company to umbrella in 2021, to help you get on the right track.

 

umbrella company vs paye

Umbrella Company vs PAYE: What should you choose?

Umbrella company vs PAYE is a question asked by thousands of contractors.

After all, it’s a big decision to make that will have a direct impact on your contracting career and day-to-day life, so it’s not one that should be taken lightly.

To help every contractor make the right decision for them, Umbrella Supermarket has put together this insightful guide outlining the key differences between umbrella and PAYE and the advantages and drawbacks of each.

avoid ir35

How can I avoid IR35?

As a contractor, you will most likely know about IR35 and upcoming reforms from April 2021.

These changes to IR35 legislation are set to badly impact many self-employed contractors in the private sector, so thousands are understandably worried. After all, getting caught out by IR35 can mean you end up paying more in tax than you need at the same level as an employee, without receiving the benefits of being employed, such as statutory rights.

umbrella company costs

Umbrella Company Fees: How Much Should You Pay?

When deciding which umbrella company to work with, the fees they charge will inevitably play an important role in the decision-making process.

Umbrella company fees are taken directly out of the contractor’s income, so it is only natural that contractors want to ensure they are getting a fair deal.

To help contractors understand umbrella company fees, from how they are charged, what they will receive in return, and how much they should be paying, Umbrella Supermarket outlines everything there is to know about umbrella fees in this handy guide.

umbrella vs limited

Pros and Cons of Limited vs. Umbrella

Big reforms to IR35 legislation are set to come into motion from 6th April 2021 which will impact the thousands of self-employed, private-sector contractors out there.

For this reason, many of the contractors that currently operate through a limited company will be considering the umbrella company route as an alternative.

If this is true for you, it’s important to do your research to find out whether limited company vs umbrella is the best option for you in 2021.

To help make the decision that little bit easier, in this guide Umbrella Supermarket outline the key differences between limited vs umbrella, so you can get on the right track.

2021 budget

What Does the 2021 Budget Mean for Contractors?

On 3rd March 2021 Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his Budget in the House of Commons, outlining the government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead.

Sunak announced a variety of measures he will put into place to help businesses and jobs that have suffered through the pandemic, as well as outlining a plan for the long-term recovery of the economy.

However, the question many contractors will be asking is how the Budget will impact the

umbrella company

5 Benefits to Working with an Umbrella Company

Contracting through an umbrella company has become an increasingly popular option for contractors across the UK in recent years. After all, it is a route that offers contractors a range of benefits over other paths such as working through PAYE or being self-employed.

 

 

ir35 reforms

Contractor’s Guide to IR35 in 2021

From April 6th 2021, reforms to IR35 legislation will come into force, impacting the lives of thousands of self-employed contractors.

Inevitably, contractors across the UK are concerned about upcoming reforms and how these will affect them. To help, in this guide, Umbrella Supermarket look at what these changes to IR35 entail and how they might impact you as a contractor in 2021.

 

compare umbrella company fees

How to Compare Umbrella Company Fees

If you are considering joining an umbrella company in 2021, or have been contracting through one for a while and want to ensure you are getting a good deal, it is important that you know how to compare umbrella company fees.

What you pay in income tax and National Insurance will be the same regardless of which umbrella company you choose, however the fees the umbrella company charges can make a big difference to your take home pay.

At Umbrella Supermarket, we know that every contractor wants to get a fair deal. To help, we explain how umbrella company fees work and how you can compare them to find the best deal.

job retention scheme

Job Retention Scheme for Contractors in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted workers across the UK and contractors have been no exception.

Many of the 1.77 million independent contractors have either lost work altogether or have had contracts put temporarily on hold leaving them in a tricky position.

Fortunately, many of these contractors are eligible for the government’s Job Retention Scheme otherwise known as furlough, introduced to offer financial support for businesses and workers. This has been an essential source of income for many who have lost contract work as a result of the pandemic.

As we experience a third national lockdown, the furlough scheme has now been extended until the 30th April. So, if you find yourself out of contract work or have projects on hold, Umbrella Supermarket are here to explain what the Job Retention Scheme is, how it works and what this means for contractors.