If you have ever ordered anything online or have been expecting a delivery, you will probably be familiar with the term “business days.” Companies often used this phrase to indicate how long something, like a package, will take to get to you.
Furthermore, “business days” are employed by government and law institutions as the accepted time frame for any given transaction.
One or two business days can occur over as few as one calendar day and as many as five calendar days if the period includes a weekend and a federal holiday. A business day occurs during the working days of the week and are only counted on those days, which means weekends and federal holidays do not count as business days.
In the Western world, working days are Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is important to note that business days vary based on the country and are also affected by local religions and customs.
We can explore the concept of business days even further by looking at when the phrase is used, how it works, and how business days differ from country to country.
How Do Business Days Work?
Business days are considered to be full working days. They are regarded as any day of the week, not a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday (source). However, other factors come into play, so let’s look at the following example of how business days work.
Middle of the Week
In our first example, let’s look at how business days work in shops that offer online sales and shipping. For example, when you order something, several factors may affect the shipping, including the time you place your order.
Let’s imagine that you have ordered a brand new pair of sneakers from an online shop. If you look at the shop’s Terms and Conditions, you may find that they state that orders are shipped within a specific time frame, which could be one to two business days.
This is a relatively short period. Most businesses work on a two to three-day time frame, and some even use a three to four-day lead time.
You may wonder why some businesses have shorter lead times. Often clothing shops and the like have an abundance of stock, so they can prepare your order without having to do much prep work.
However, businesses that offer custom made items may need the extra time to create your order.
You may also wonder if one to two business days includes the day you place your order. This is a relatively tricky concept because it’s not a standardized synonym, but the general rule is that if you order before midday, then it counts.
However, if you order after 12:00 pm, the first business day will be the following day.
For example, If you ordered your sneakers on a Monday, before midday, they should be shipped to you on either Tuesday or Wednesday. However, if you order something after 12:00 pm, it will probably only arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.
If that shoe company uses the one to two business days to get your order ready for you, they are obliged to ship the items after two days. You will usually be notified if there are delays.
Ordering on a Friday
If you order your shoes on a Friday afternoon, you are likely to wait a bit longer. This is because the company will not work on your order on weekends. After all, they are not classified as business days.
This means that you will probably get your shoes the following Tuesday or Wednesday if you order on a Friday.
Ordering on a Weekend, Long Weekend of Public Holiday
If you order your shoes on a Saturday, you choose to order on a non-business day, so the order will not be processed until the following Monday. The same is true for ordering on a Sunday. Public holidays are also generally not considered working days.
What is essential to take away from this example is that you should always try to place orders at the beginning of a working week. That way, you can have your items shipped to you in the shortest amount of time.
Who Uses Business Days as a Measure of Time?
Business days are not just observed by shops with online stores. They are also used by couriers, lawyers, banks, and other federal bodies.
In fact, anyone is entitled to use the phrase, but because it is quite formal, it is primarily reserved for businesses and other institutions.
For example, you wouldn’t usually hear people say something like the following:
Bye, mom, I am off to school. I’ll see you at the end of the business day.
Nor would you expect to hear:
My family and I are going to the beach. We will be gone for 3 to 4 business days.
While there is nothing wrong with these phrases grammatically, they are contextually incorrect.
Let’s look at some of the primary institutions that rely on the expression “business days” to communicate effectively.
If you have ever booked a courier service, you will know that business days are of utmost importance.
While most courier services will only deliver to you Monday to Friday, there are exceptions. When booking a courier, you also usually have to book before a particular time for them to collect the same day.
Couriers often employ business days to promote their services. As such, many couriers will offer specific specials to appeal to their customers. When it comes to shipping, the fewer business days it takes means the happier people are.
Thank you for choosing to send your parcel with us.
You have chosen the Same Day Express Delivery Option.
Your parcel will be delivered to the provided address by the end of the business day.
Thank you for shipping with us!
We appreciate your loyal support. To show our appreciation, we are currently offering an overnight express special.
Book now to have your parcel delivered by the following business day.
Thank you for shipping with us!
Often you will find businesses using the terms “clients” and “customers.”
These two terms are essential in business English, so it’s good to know when to use the possessive or possessive plural form of clients and hen to use the possessive or possessive plural form of customers.
Those who work in the law field also value the expression “business days” and are inclined to abide by them strictly. As such, you, too, are expected to follow the timeframe which is given to you.
Please respond to the aforementioned petition of divorce within two to three working days.
Please ensure that the documents are completed and returned to us by the end of the business day.
Banks, Libraries, and other Public Institutions
If you have ever tried to phone a bank, library, or another public institution on a Saturday, Sunday, or Public holiday you may hear the following messages.
Thank you for your call. Northwest Bank is currently closed. Please call again during our business hours, which are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
The Library is open during business hours, Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
How Business Days Differ around the World
While people living in the Western world may recognize business days from Monday to Friday, it’s essential to know that business days are not the same worldwide.
Places like America, England, Australia, and South Africa follow the Western concept of business days, while localities in Asia and the Middle East have different definitions of working days.
When considering business days, you need to look at that country’s financial market and its governing body.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was initially founded in 1919 to ensure that people were given reasonable working hours. This included paid holidays and night time shifts (source).
While organizations such as the ILO have influenced the formation of business days, they were not the only contributor.
When looking at the business week’s evolution and the weekend, we can see how religion played a significant role. Even today, religious beliefs still influence the business world.
For example, in the Middle East, Israel’s business days are from Sunday to Thursday, and their weekend is on Friday and Saturday. This is true in places like Dubai and Kuwait too.
However, while government businesses operate from Sunday to Thursday, some privately-owned companies may observe slightly different business hours and may even work on a Saturday.
In addition to the difference in business days, the working hours can differ quite drastically. In parts of Asia such as China, Japan, and South Korea, the working hours tend to be longer than those observed in other countries.
South Korea is considered to have the longest working hours of any country globally.
On average, a South Korean could work up to 12 hours a day. Only recently did the South Korean government impose a law restricting the number of hours they were allowed to work a week (source).
Thus, while the business day might be from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Western world, many places are open until 10:00 pm at night in Asia.
Knowing that business hours differ from country to country is essential to people who work internationally, which may affect their hours. Globalization has triggered a massive shift in business hours.
For example, there are people in Africa who work for American companies, and their working hours fall in the middle of the night because those are during America’s business hours.
Undoubtedly the phrase “business days” will continue to evolve as the world expands, and more people begin to work online.
Where Did Business Days Come From?
The concept of “business days” is an interesting one. People all around the world accept the construct of “workdays” and “rest days.” It’s generally accepted that one works five days of the week and then rests for two. Yet, where did this idea originate?
Since at least 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians based the seven-day week on the seven planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon (source).
Established in the Middle East, the seven-day week spread to Greece, Egypt, and then to Rome. While the seven-day week is an ancient concept, the weekend is relatively newer, and the idea of the weekend only came about towards the end of the 19th century.
Before the evolution of the two-day weekend, “rest days” were observed by various nations dependent on religious beliefs. Jews would rest on a Saturday, while Christians would take a Sunday, and Muslims rested on Friday (source).
The rise of the Industrial Revolution saw the beginning of the five-day workweek and the two-day weekend. Those individuals who had spent their lives working on farms came to the city and began to work in factories, but they quickly began to dislike the long, arduous hours and longed for time off.
The workers demanded that the factory owners give them a day off to rest and observe their religious practices.
Those of the Christian faith wanted Sundays off, while those of Jewish faith wanted Saturdays. Thus, factory owners eventually decided on a two-day break.
Henry Ford was a pioneer of the weekend, as he gave his workers a two-day weekend from the beginning of the 20th Century. However, the concept of the 40-hour workweek didn’t come about until the late 1930s.
Today, most people employed by companies work a five-day week. This, in turn, adds up to 40 hours a week. Self-employed people do not always observe the standard business days and may work shorter weeks or longer weeks, depending on their schedule.
The concept of “business days” is an important one in English because it is so readily applied in various situations. If you are interested in business English, understanding what is meant by one or two business days is vital.
It is also useful if you remember that business days differ from country to country. The reason they do so is because of their socio-historical and religious context.