Nearly three-quarters of business owners say they will take no more than five days holiday next year even though 89% agree that time off is important for mental health.
Research conducted by small business lender iwoca has found that over a third (37%) of small business owners plan to take no time off at all in the next year; and sole traders are under the most pressure to keep working at the moment, as 44% of the UK's 4.5 million self-employed workers say they won't be taking time off over the next 12 months.
In normal times, 59% of business owners take five days' holiday a year on average, while 10% take none at all. Just 4% of business owners normally take the usual 25-28 days off that many UK employees are allocated.
While many businesses have adapted their operations as a result of working from home, 41% of owners say they wouldn't be able to run their business if they had to quarantine for 14 days after returning from a holiday abroad.
Despite these findings, the vast majority of business owners (89%) agree that time off is important for mental health.
Niamh Keys, head of people at iwoca, said: "Many small business owners are quite rightly channelling all their energy into ensuring the future of their business. But this could be taking its toll on their own wellbeing."
The number of self-employed people saying they have "poor" or "very poor" mental health has increased from 6% to 26%, according to its findings.
The number that say they have "good" or "excellent" mental health has also dropped significantly since the beginning of the pandemic - from 68% to 39%. This is most severe among women (a drop of 54%) and young freelancers aged 16-34 (a drop of 49%).
A third of freelancers (32%) say they are highly stressed - half (48%) say they feel depressed or anxious because of stress and the same proportion say they feel less productive. Just over a fifth (22%) said they have lost clients because of job-related stress.
Chloé Jepps, IPSE head of research, said: "Lockdown and the pandemic have clearly shaken the mental health of the freelancing sector … One of the most practical things government can do is help stave off the financial worries of freelancers and the self-employed, since this sector has been hit harder than most by lockdown and the pandemic. The government should make sure there is no cliff-edge to its support schemes and that any further support is open to all the self-employed, not just a proportion."
Written by Rachel Miller.