Personal and Work-Life Balance survey 2021

woman working from home sitting at laptop

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published the first of three publications on the results of the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey which was carried out in Quarter 3, 2021. The detail in this publication is a subset of the broader data collected. There will be two further publications – “Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey – Job Satisfaction, Well-being and Employment Barriers” to be published on 19 April and “Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey – Remote Working” to be published on 26 April. This publication covers the flexibility employees have in work, availability of paid/unpaid leave and flexible working arrangements, barriers to taking these and their awareness of their entitlements at work.

Some of the key findings are as follows

  • Over one in five (22.4%) employees did not take any annual leave in the 12 months prior to interview. Of the four in five (77.6%) who took annual leave, full-time workers in larger organisations (100 people or more) were more likely to do so – 92.4% compared with 88.4% of part-time staff in similar sized organisations.
  • The length of service with your current employer also impacts on workers’ likelihood to take annual leave. For workers with long service of 19 years or more, nearly nine in ten (88.7%) full-time employees took annual leave in the previous 12 months, compared with just eight in ten (80%) of their part-time equivalents.
  • Part-time workers with less service are more likely to take unpaid sick leave – over one in ten (11.8%) with 5 to 10 years’ service took unpaid sick leave, compared to one in twenty (5.0%) of their full-time equivalents. 
  • Of the 7% of employees who had been refused permission to take leave in the previous two years, by far the most common type of leave refused was annual leave.
  • One in six (16.7%) employees availed of flexible hours in the 12 months prior to interview. Of workers with children who had worked flexible hours, over one third (34.8%) availed of flexible hours for almost all of the previous four weeks (17 days or more), compared with just 14.1% of workers with no children.
  • Part-time workers in firms with 100 people or more were almost twice as likely to encounter barriers to taking unpaid leave – over four in ten (40.4%), compared to just over one in five (21.9%) of their full-time equivalents
  • Of workers who had experienced barriers to taking paid leave, the most common reason was lack of staff to cover work (63.8%). This was particularly so in small firms (less than 20 people) where nearly seven in ten (68.8%) of those experiencing barriers to taking leave gave this reason.
  • For workers with children who cited barriers to taking paid leave, one in eight (12.7%) had to keep their leave for school holidays while one in fourteen (7.3%) needed to keep it in case their children got sick.
  • The majority (over 90%) of workers were aware of their entitlements to breaks at work. There was less awareness of the entitlement to have 11 consecutive hours of rest in each period of 24 hours (76.2% awareness) and breastfeeding/lactation breaks (67.6% awareness).

To view full results see Personal and Work-Life Balance 2021 – Main Results