Almost a quarter of tradespeople ‘can’t afford to take time off’


TRADESPEOPLE are working longer hours and extra shifts because of the cost of living crisis, new research by ElectricalDirect has revealed.

The electrical product retailer surveyed tradespeople from across the UK to reveal how many are at risk of burnout.

It found that almost two in five (39%) have upped their hours in recent months, with just under a quarter (23%) saying that they can’t afford to take any time off.

Furthermore, 43% said that they now regularly work more than eight hour days, with 18% working more than five days a week, and 26% continuing to work when feeling unwell.

Tradespeople are also taking very few days of annual leave, largely for financial reasons. On average, the respondents said that they take just 11 days off a year, but almost a third (32%) take less than a week of holiday every 12 months.

Further to this, 92% said that they take less than 28 days off a year, which is the statutory annual leave requirement.

Broken down by trade, roofers take the fewest days off – averaging just four days of leave a year. In contrast, painter and decorators take the most holiday, but still take less than two weeks off (12).

The trades which take the most and least annual leave are:

# Trade Mean
1 Painter Decorator 13
2 Landscaper 12
3 Plumber 12
4 Joiner 12
5 Builder 11
6 Electrician 11
7 Caretaker/Maintenance 11
8 Window Fabricator 11
9 Locksmith 11
10 Carpenter 10
11 Building Surveyor 9
12 Plasterer 9
13 Bricklayer 9
14 Scaffolder 8
15 Roofer 4


Self-employed tradespeople reported being the most overworked. They are considerably more likely than employed individuals to work long days (51% vs 40%), work while ill (34% vs 23%) and work at weekends (38% vs 18%). They are also nearly twice as likely to work over five days a week (27% vs 14%).

To help tradespeople avoid or deal with burnout, ElectricalDirect has partnered with Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of HR consultancy 10Eighty, to share some expert advice:

  1. Prioritise – “Take a hard look at your priorities. Get clarity on what really matters. Is there a real deadline? Is it urgent because of who is asking for it? Will it impact productivity or profitability? Where can you adjust, what can you decline, who can help?”
  2. Take breaks – “Take breaks from work. Be sure to use any annual leave and leave work behind when you’re off – don’t work in your downtime! Try not to check work emails when you are off and say if you are not contactable.”
  3. Pace yourself and relax – “Try to pace yourself and reward yourself for what you can do. You could try mindfulness to relax and reconnect with self, purpose and wellbeing.”

Dominick Sandford, MD at IronmongeryDirect, said, “With the country still fighting the cost of living crisis, it’s completely understandable that many tradespeople feel the need to put in extra hours to increase their level of income.

“However, overworking can have serious consequences, physically, mentally and professionally, and that’s why we’ve partnered with Liz to share some expert advice. Hopefully her tips can help tradespeople deal with the recent increase in workload, so that they can avoid or manage any burnout.”