Tax & admin · 22 June 2018

Self-employed set to dodge £13bn World Cup productivity slump

World Cup 2018 Russia sickies
Employers that offer flexible working are less likely to suffer financial damage during the World Cup

Britain’s self-employed workers are less likely to suffer from a World Cup productivity slump than their employed counterparts, according to micro business experts.

After researchers claimed UK businesses could lose up to £13bn over the duration of the 2018 World Cup due to staff absences, the flexibility of self-employment could act as a vital shield to lost earnings. 

According to recent research by Ipsos MORI, nearly one in four survey respondents admitted they would miss work during the World Cup in Russia – while some of those who don’t take unauthorised leave may try and sneak match-viewing into their work hours, which could dramatically cut their productivity.

A separate study by FootballTips.com suggested that football fans would miss a total of 49 hours of work during the World Cup, of which 28 hours will be unauthorised. Using average earnings of £13.94 per hour, business owners were warned they could cumulatively lose over £13bn.

With employers braced for a sickie battle, Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of micro business accounting providers FreeAgent, said self-employment would be one of the few areas of the UK economy to remain relatively unhurt by the tournament in Russia, as many of these workers enjoy the flexibility to choose the business hours that suit them best.

“It’s not surprising that employee absenteeism spikes during major sporting events, but few business owners are fully aware of the financial implications these absences can have on businesses. During this World Cup, the combined cost of sick days, unauthorised leave and employees surreptitiously watching games in the office when they should be working could well be in the billions.

“Employers that offer flexible working are likely to suffer significantly less financial damage from the implications of absenteeism during the tournament.”

“But those who will be best-placed to enjoy the football will be self-employed workers, as they are able to choose the hours that best suit their lifestyles while still staying on top of their business.”

According to FreeAgent research, 11% of working Britons plan to start their own business by the end of 2018, while 8% plan to start their own business by the end of 2019.

Molyneux added: “With over 32m people currently working in the UK, according to ONS statistics, that means 3.5 million more Brits are expected to become their own boss before the start of 2019.

“Better work/life balance emerged as the primary motivation for becoming self-employed, with 44% of those surveyed saying it was their top priority. As we shift towards a more flexible working culture, I expect businesses will feel the impact of employee absenteeism during major sporting events a lot less in the future.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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