Words: Dray Morgan
A recent study conducted by international work facilitator Remote has found that Ireland has one of the worst work-life balances in Europe, significantly below the UK.
Out of the 30 countries analysed in the data set gathered by Remote, Ireland ranks 24th in relation to how we balance our careers with our personal lives. The study took into account various factors such as sick pay, maternity leave, minimum wage, healthcare infrastructure, happiness, average hours worked and inclusivity.
One severe downfall that has impacted Ireland’s score on the work-life index is the lack of statutory sick pay in the workplace. Until the start of this year, employees had no legal right to any sick pay whatsoever, with that being reformed to just three days in 2023. Comparing this to Luxembourg, which topped the index, which allows up to 77 days of sick pay. Ireland also spends the second least on sick pay in the EU, only beating out Greece.
Additionally, Ireland’s maternity leave pales in comparison to other EU countries. Ireland averages 26 weeks of maternity leave at a rate of just over 25 per cent of initial income. This shows a huge disparity between our approach to maternity leave and other countries, with the only European country averaging a lower amount being Portugal at 100 per cent of income for six weeks. Countries such as Estonia, Spain, France, Norway, Netherlands and many more see over 95 per cent of the initial income being given for anywhere from 15 weeks to an entire year in Slovenia.
Ireland failed to excel in any other category in the study. However, Ireland also did not fall below the average for any other section of the index. A study by Microsoft in 2021 found poor work culture and negative impacts on mental health to be the leading factors in why their employees were leaving their positions.
There may be many other unquantifiable cultural factors which are also at play. Cultural norms in other countries have impacts on how the work day is approached and navigated. Maybe it’s due to a generational culture of working to live, such as in the farming roots of our nation, or the lack of mid-day heat that causes the need for the Spanish siesta. Either way, we’re feeling burnt out.
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