What is a business day and how long it lasts?
Business day definition: Any day or part of the day during which the business is officially being conducted.
Generally, all businesses, government bodies, organizations and other entities are open during the official business days. In the Western world, which includes Europe, North America, and Australia, a standard business day is an official day of work that consists of five out of the seven days in the week, typically Monday through Friday and excluding weekends and recognized holidays.
In some German-speaking countries, such as Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, the term “business day” may include Saturday or Sunday depending on the profession.
For example, if a business promises to respond to your query by the next business day, it means that they will return your call the following day unless it falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a recognized holiday. The term “business day” often applies to when packages are shipped as many couriers and shippers work the same business days as most of the companies.
How long is a business day?
The business day consists of business hours. So, the length of a business day will vary depending on the local definition of the workweek and the hours of working that it constitutes. While Monday through Friday with the exclusion of holidays is typical in the Western world, the hours may vary from four up to sixteen depending on several factors.
Eight hours, excluding the lunch hour, is considered the most common length for a business day. This means working 9 am to 6 pm, which is nine hours (in some countries this is 9 am to 5 pm – eight hours), but 12 pm to 1 pm is considered a lunch hour and not paid.
Of course, there are professions that operate 24/7, such as hospitals, hotels, government services such as police and fire departments, airports, gas stations, and more. Every day is considered a “business day” when it comes to these professions. The term is generally not used for professions that are open 24/7 to separate them from typically white-collar companies such as banks, accounting firms, and the like.
The 40-Hour Work Week and 8 Hour Work Day
Nowadays the most common duration of a business day is 8 hours worldwide.
Near the turn of the 20th century, the United States government began to track the average working hours for those employed at factories and manufacturing facilities. It was determined that the typical employee was present for 100 hours. Changes were soon instituted over the following decades and on October 24th, 1940, the 40-hour-work week and 8-hour day became officially the standard practice in many industries which is still observed today.
The origins of what would be known as a typical business day began soon after the Civil War ended with the newly formed National Labor Union asking Congress to mandate the 8-hour work day. It did not pass, but labor reform continued through the decades. By 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation that brought about the 40-hour workweek for government employees. But it was not until well into the 20th century that this standard was recognized for most industries.
Changes to the Business Day
Thanks to the introduction of the internet and concepts such as flextime, the standard business day has undergone some changes.
It is now typical for many employees to work before 9 am or after 5 pm, but still put in a 40-hour workweek or even more. Many surveys have discovered that a considerable number of executives and professionals work more than 40 hours per week, but many include answering emails or work from home as part of their employment.
While many changes have been considered to the business day, it still is the standard for many industries.
Business Days Vs Calendar Days
Business days are often opposed to Calendar days, which is the adjacent notion. However, it is important to make a clear distinction between these two in order to properly plan your life or business.
In short, the calendar day is every day including weekends and holidays. Thus, regardless the official status every day is considered a calendar day. Unlike business days, there is no gap between calendar days sequence, so all 365 days of the year are counted as calendar days with no exception.
A brief example: In a standard week, there are usually five business days and seven calendar days, so normally two weeks would mean ten business days and fourteen calendar days.
If you mess up business days with calendar days, this may result in negative outcomes, such as missing the deadlines or the important appointments. For this reason, it is always good to know what exactly a business day is and how it is different from a calendar day.
Read also: 14 Keys to Success for Small Business
Business days FAQ
Overall, business days cause frequent confusion among people. In order to answer your potential questions we provide a quick, but neatly to-the-point FAQ below so there is no need for you to search for this information elsewhere:
How many business/workdays are there in a year?
This may vary based on many factors including different countries and business sectors. In the most usual scenario (five-day workweek), there are around 250 business days in a single calendar year.
This average is valid for most of the countries. For example, in 2018 the number of standard business days per country is as follows:
How many days in a work year?
The same as the number of business/work days in a calendar year – around 250.
The term “work year” automatically excludes weekends and public holidays and includes all business days of the calendar year.
How many weekends in a year?
Usually, around 104, as there are 52 weeks in a year and weekends are two days per week.
How many days in a year minus weekends?
As there are roughly 104 weekends per year, the number of days in a year minus weekends is around 260. However, if you want to know the number of business/working days per year then you need to exclude the public holidays too since they are not business days and not counted weekends – they are holidays.
How many business days in a month?
Except for February, which can be 28 or 29 days, all other months are 30 or 31 days. So, usually, there are between 20 to 23 business days in a month. However, public holidays and other non-working days may lower this number.
How many business days in a quarter?
There are 3 months in the quarter. Accordingly, in a standard case, there are between 60 to 69 business days in a quarter.
How many work hours in a year?
This again depends on the country and business sector but given there are 250 business days in a year in a standard eight-hour work format there are around 2000 work hours in a calendar year.
How many work weeks in a year?
The number of weeks is rather standard. There are 52 weeks in a year and the whole week holidays are extremely rare. Accordingly, there are 52 business weeks in a year. However, due to the holidays and other non-working days, some of these weeks are not full 5 workdays weeks.
Does Saturday/Sunday count as a business day?
Usually, it does not. However, depending on specific business sector or country it may count. For example, this can be observed when there is 24/7 working format in a certain type of business. Likewise, 24/7 format does not always mean that weekends are fully treated as standard business days. A specific type of business can be open on weekends but it usually still won’t count as a business day for formal purposes (for example for corporate email replies or other official communication).
Is Saturday a business day for banks?
This depends on a particular bank. However, even if a bank is open on Saturday the things you can do there can be limited. So, it is always a good idea to contact your bank directly regarding this matter.
Is Friday a business day?
Friday is usually an official business day in Europe, Australia, and Americas. However, it can also be a weekend in other parts of the world.
What are business days for shipping and mail?
Business days for shipping are usually the same as for any other purpose – Monday to Friday, weekends excluded. However, this might depend on the time of your order, courier and service type. Based on these factors business days for shipping can vary from 4 to 7 days per week.
When do business days start?
Business days usually start at 9:00 AM. This can be any time depending on the business though.
Further reading: Top Recycling Business Ideas and Best Green Opportunities