Should Britain be working throughout August?

This month, thousands of employees across Europe will not be working, as retailers, factories and city offices temporarily close or reduce business hours as part of what is called the ‘European August Shutdown’.

Many companies in France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Spain and more have continued this working pattern, which first came about during The Industrial Revolution between 1820 and 1840, to ensure manufacturing production lines were as efficient as possible.

So, what if Britain were to adopt a similar practice? Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance discusses the potential benefits it could provide both employees and business owners if the UK was to replicate the August break.

Top 5 benefits of a summer shut down

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  • Higher levels of engagement
  • Increased moral
  • Extended holiday (parents are able to spend time with children due to school holidays)
  • Attractive employee benefit
  • Improve overall productivity

John Atkinson, Head of Commercial Business at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, says: “Many of our clients, in particular business owners who run small to medium sized manufacturing and logistics companies, often experience a number of problems during the August shut down period. This can be a result of their suppliers and main contacts abroad not being available and some may argue it makes sense for UK business to do the same for this reason. Although not as popular as it used to be, the ‘factory fortnight’ also still exists where manufacturing companies shut down to help improve capacity and to maintain machinery. For those who need to operate an always on-service, some allow this break for a percentage of their workforce annually.”

“In addition to this, the British heat wave has also proven extremely difficult for many people this year and is important that business owners can try to relate to their employees during work at this time. It may be that your dress code can become more relaxed during the hotter months, and although there is no legal guidance for a maximum temperature limit, it is important to provide clean and fresh air in the workplace.”

Ann Wiggins, HR advisor at The ELAS Group, also believes taking longer breaks from work are crucial to employee wellbeing:

“We should think of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health, we would take time off from work to recover from a physical illness or injury to enable us to come back to work ‘fighting fit’, it therefore stands to reason that we would do the same if we need to recoup from a mental illness or injury. After all it is no great secret that when we are enjoying good mental health, that we feel a sense of purpose, we have energy to do things, can face challenges more easily and bring 100% of ourselves to work.

Making the most of annual leave and taking time to rest our minds as well as our bodies can also help to ensure that we are feeling our best at work. There has been lots of research showing that being active or being outdoors and getting a little sunshine aid our mental recovery time, too.”

There are however, mixed opinions form business owners regarding a potential shutdown, including Mark Solomon, co-founder of tech company LovetheSales.com says: “It wouldn’t be beneficial for the employer or employee if a European style August shutdown was implemented in the UK.

August is already one of the most expensive times of the year to take a trip away, because it sits right in the holiday period where demand is high. Increasing that demand would only increase the prices of a holiday – risking affecting employees further.

Dan Humphrey, Founder of The Summerton Club shares a similar opinion: “I’m not in favour of the shutdown, I like the quieter times of August and between Christmas and New Year, as with less external distractions, these are the times that we can catch up on non-urgent work, preparing ourselves for the business periods of the run-up to Christmas and the New Year. Taking a break would mean that this work would need to be completed in parallel with our everyday work, which can be stressful or mean it isn’t completed sufficiently, thus causing more problems and stress down the line.”

The ‘2018 Cashflow Calendar’ identifies further dates and financial events throughout the year that could influence a business’s cashflow and guide business owners to help better manage available funds.

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