If you struggled to get out of bed at the beginning of this week, don’t be too hard on yourself as the first Monday in February marks National Sickie Day in the UK. This is the time of year when the highest number of UK employees are expected to take the day off due to illness.

Traditionally, this day sees record absences and last year the number of employees calling in sick was estimated at 350,000 by the Employment Law Experts (ELAS) costing the UK economy around £45million in lost hours, wages and overtime.

But for the self-employed, we can almost guarantee that pulling a Monday ‘Sickie’ never crossed their mind.

…Because for freelancers and the self-employed, there’s no such thing – and generally, it takes a lot more to convince workers who run their own business to down tools when they’re really feeling under the weather.

At times like these it’s important to remember that no-one is superhuman – sometimes you just can’t avoid the inevitable winter bugs that are flying around. And the idea that self-employed workers should soldier on, no matter what, is quite ludicrous when you think about it.

It’s true that managing illness alongside running your own business might be slightly more complex than a phone call to your boss on Monday morning, but there are some precautionary things you can do to make sure you’re able to take good care of yourself when the lurgy hits hard.

Schedule (and Budget) for Lost Days

Whether it’s family emergencies or sick days for you or the kids, when you take on a project, schedule some breathing space for yourself on top of any holidays you plan to take – you may not need this time but it’s always better to prepare yourself for the unexpected rather than disappoint a client.

If you’re not working due to illness, you won’t be getting paid so it’s also a good idea to put some savings aside each month in the event that you need to take some unplanned absences from your office.

Ask for Help

If you’ve not managed to plan ahead and you find yourself bed-ridden and in dire straits, ask yourself: is there someone I can call for help? Whether it’s ex-colleagues/friends, business associates or fellow freelancers, having a few contacts that you can call upon in emergency situations might just be the tonic.

Talk to Your Clients

If things have got to a point where there’s no room for manoeuvre, where there’s no-one available to help and the deadline’s fast approaching – speak to your client. If you have a good working relationship with them, they are likely to be sympathetic to your situation, allowing you to work out a compromise or they may even agree to extend the deadline on your project.

Take the Time To Recover

It can be really difficult when you’re self-employed to properly switch off and give yourself time to recover – but if you don’t, it’s very likely that you’ll end up prolonging your illness and your standard of work will suffer in the process. So take the time you need to rest and recuperate.

Your clients will thank you for it in the long run.

unsplash-logoKelly Sikkema