What are Business Days? Business Day Definition and More

Calendar with pins, featuring a circled '30'

What makes business days instrumental in the world of trade and commerce? For starters, business days are a universally recognized and used unit for measuring time in the world of trade and commerce.

For example, when delivering goods and services to a customer, a business will use its standard work days to estimate the time it takes to complete the transaction. The same scenario applies to addressing service-related inquiries, fulfilling agreements, and even handling client disputes.

While a “business day” definition may seem like a concept, understanding its definition and structure enables smooth business operations and keeps you aligned with your customers’ needs.

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Key Takeaways

  • Business days refer to the days when companies and establishments operate regularly.
  • A typical business or work day starts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and runs from Monday to Friday.
  • Working days enable accurate time estimates for delivering goods and services, determining contract times, calculating employee wages, and meeting tax deadlines.
  • The number of business days in a year consists of 260 business days, while a leap year will have 261 business days.
  • A typical business day consists of eight work hours but may extend to 10 hours if the company follows a four-day workweek.
  • Some countries start their workweek on a Sunday and end it on a Thursday. It depends on their country’s labor and cultural practices and religious observances.

What is a Business Day?

A business day, also called weekdays, work days, or working days, refers to days when businesses and establishments conduct their regular business operations. A regular business day consists of eight hours. It starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., following the company’s local time.

Most standard businesses also carry out their regular operations from Monday to Friday.

Working days exclude public holidays and weekends, and it is this omission that distinguishes a business day from a calendar day. Unlike business days, calendar days refer to all the days in the calendar, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

Meanwhile, business days may not follow the same structure across all companies and trades worldwide. Some cultures and beliefs consider Friday and Saturday the weekends, while other countries follow a 6-day work week and a one-day weekend.

Why are Business Days Important?

January calendar - business days

When a business specifies its operating hours, they are setting clear limits on when customers can and cannot contact them to inquire about or follow up on their services. This is a must because misunderstandings may arise when a client contacts the business when there are no agents or employees around to entertain their concerns.

Similarly, when customers deposit and withdraw money or issue checks on a holiday or during the weekend, they may have to wait longer for the transaction to be completed.

Working days also serve as useful reference points for:

  • Estimating delivery dates. Using the regular operating hours of their business, merchants can coordinate with their couriers on the approximate number of days to deliver specific goods to customers. For example, they can better assess the time it takes to transport the goods based on the physical distance between the business and the customer.

  • Measuring contract times. Most, if not all, businesses prefer to follow the weekdays over calendar days when gauging the contract time for projects and agreements. The reason is that weekdays focus on the business’s operating hours and thus make more sense as a reference point in assessing when to terminate contracts or extend contract times.

  • Closing a sale or deal. Real estate agents count business days in closing sales or deals and arranging property inspections.

  • Monitoring and calculating employee work hours. Whether a company employs hourly or salaried employees, business days provide a more accurate calculation of the number of work hours completed by workers in a given pay period.

  • Addressing disputes with clients. Following the business’s regular operating hours in settling disputes ensures that the time of both parties involved is maximized. When the client shows up on a regular business day, they are assured that staff will be present to accommodate them.

  • Meeting tax deadlines. A good example of this is how tax filing deadlines for business owners in the U.S. will always fall on a business day, despite the specific dates changing every year.

How Many Business Days are There in a Year?

A business day in 2024 consists of 251 workdays. It is significantly lower compared to 2023, where there were 260 business days in total. On the other hand, leap years have 261 work days.

Note that the number of business days in each month will vary depending on the number of calendar days and weeks each month has. This year, April, May, July, August, and October each have 22 business days.

January, March, and December have 22, while February and September have 20. June and November both have the least number of business days in 2024, with each month only having 19.

How Long is a Business Day?

A typical business day in the U.S. takes eight hours, starting from 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. It is important to note that not all businesses follow the 9-5 work schedule, as some may start their operations earlier or later during the day.

They may even extend their operating hours, depending on the nature of the business.

Establishments that open in the afternoon may extend their business hours until late at night. Certain businesses, such as gasoline stations, convenience stores, and data centers, operate 24 hours a day.

Other companies may also adopt a four-day work week, in which case the daily business hours are extended for up to 10 hours.

How Different are Business Days Around the World?

Three professional women engaged in their work during a business day

Business days differ around the world because of specific cultural, religious, and labor practices. In countries where the majority are Christians, they do not work during the weekends because of the belief that Sunday is supposed to be reserved for resting.

Religious practices and observances bear a stronger influence on how business days vary across different countries. For example, compared to Christian countries, Islamic countries like Kuwait have businesses operating from Sunday to Thursday. Their weekends are on Friday and Saturday.

National holidays and observances also determine the number of business days in a year. Each country has a public holiday that is unique to its culture and tradition.

Some examples of unique holidays around the world include the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Thailand and Cambodia, where the observance of the holiday falls on rotating dates in May. In China, the Dragon Boat Festival usually takes place in June or on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.

The U.S. has both national and local holidays, depending on each state. Among the upcoming federal holidays in the U.S. that fall on a work day are Memorial Day (May 29), Juneteenth (June 19), and Independence Day (July 4). For state-wide holidays, Wyoming celebrates Native American Day on May 12, while California observes Harvey Milk Day on May 22.

Is a Four-Day Workweek Ideal?

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the adaptation of flexible work setups in different businesses. Aside from allowing employees to work remotely and implementing a hybrid work structure, shifting to a four-day workweek is also a popular choice among companies worldwide.

Following a four-day workweek entails additional work hours for each business day. Consequently, it also means employees get to enjoy a three-day weekend.

There are advantages and disadvantages to adopting a work week that only consists of four days. Some notable pros include the increased number of rest days for employees, improved employee happiness and health, and the added work-life balance for workers.

Decreasing the number of working days in a week also pushes companies to maximize the hours rendered by their employees at work. They may increase expectations in terms of deliverables and demand a faster turnaround time for tasks.

As for the disadvantages, productivity levels may be affected because of the added number of hours in each work day. Some employees may take time to get used to working extra hours and may even experience burnout if not addressed accordingly.

If you are considering a four-day workweek for your employees, it is best to consider the nature of your industry and the demands of your customers. Think about how the reduced business days will affect your operations and overall productivity.

More importantly, you must assess whether the adjustment in employee work hours will improve or deter their work performance.

Final Thoughts

Carefully observing the business days in your country or locale is a must if you want to provide accurate time estimates for delivering services to your customers and fulfilling contractual agreements with your business partners.

Your business’s distinct work schedule also determines how frequently your employees are paid annually, as well as the hourly rates for each of your staff.

Furthermore, if your business offers services internationally, keeping track of the workweeks and labor practices both in and outside of your country enables you to cater to global customer demands.


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