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Is Self-Employment Becoming The New 'Nine To Five'?

15/02/2017 11:20 | Updated 16 February 2017

We keep hearing it: the 9 to 5 is dead. Whether you agree or not, it's certainly true that in recent years more and more people are choosing to "go it alone" and become their own boss. The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 133,000 in the last year alone and now account for 15% of the total workforce . With the flexibility of choosing your own hours, it's easy to see the attraction. But new insights from Scottish Widows' think tank, the Centre for the Modern Family, show it may be having a negative impact on family life in the UK.

This latest research has revealed that one in five relatives of a self-employed worker (20%) report increased stress levels in their household due to their career choice. Often this is because of the financial pressures this kind of working style brings and because they actually have less time to spend with the family. This is a worrying trend considering that for many, the decision to leave traditional employment is driven by a desire for a better work-life balance.

Family life, but at a cost?
Over half (53%) of self-employed people have left traditional jobs in search of greater control and flexibility in their working life. For women especially, it appears self-employment provides an opportunity to fit working hours around childcare, with nearly half of self-employed mothers (46%) choosing self-employment for this reason, compared to just 7% of self-employed fathers.

However, nearly one in five people (20%) with a self-employed relative say this person is generally more stressed as a result of their career choice and one in ten (11%) say their whole family is under more stress as a result. What's more, nearly one in five of those in a self-employed household (18%) say their family member is always on call for work.

Financial worries: a barrier for many
Despite the perceived benefits of self-employment, a significant proportion of the UK's workers are hesitating to take the plunge. We found that two fifths (40%) of the workforce prefer the financial security of being a permanent employee and 39% enjoy the benefits - such as a pension, parental leave and sick pay - too much to become self-employed. With one fifth (19%) of people with a self-employed relative claiming their family member has more financial worries since becoming their own boss, perhaps this is of little surprise.

So how do we support this growing sector of the workforce?
We know from this research that workers are looking for flexibility, but not the financial worries of being self-employed. For UK businesses that want to attract and keep hold of talent, this should be a wake-up call to deliver real agile working. And with a wealth of technology at our fingertips, it has arguably never been easier to work flexibly.

To a growing number of people, self-employment offers a chance to structure a rewarding career around family life; 42% of people claim they want to be their own boss. However, the pressures and stresses of being their own boss may be too much for some, as only 5% have plans to do so in the future. So, for now, it may be that the 'nine to five' is here to stay.

Read our latest report here.

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