Work life balance

Work life balance in Ireland
Work life balance in Ireland

The issue of work life balance

The issue of work life balance in Ireland is twofold. Firstly, the Irish has traditionally value of the institution of family which overshadows the loyalty to the company. In many cases the company and family become interconnected, particularly in private family businesses. The Irish thus prefer working schemes that allow work life balance with enough time to be spent with the family. Recently, as a result of current fast-paced lifestyles, there has been a strong movement to improve work life balance. However, work life balance has not been the case with many SMEs, where there has been a culture of working long hours to start up a business and with graduates and employees. This can be an area of conflict amongst those value a work life balance and those expect an exceptional work commitment.

Secondly, in Ireland, the issue of work life balance is becoming increasingly important within 10 years, as the Irish workforce is changing. To provide an opportunity to retain the best of their employees, a number of employers are introducing policies that address work-life balance. They help workers to successfully combine employment with their family life , and caring responsibilities, personal and social life outside the workplace. The main work-life balance policies are annual leave, maternity and paternity leave, flexible working hours, and so on. The creation of virtual teams or working from home is new ways of work-life balancing.

Although a majority of these policies are not legally binding, it helps to retain a quality work force and prevent costly high staff turnover.

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 National Holidays

Irish law provides full time employees with a minimum of 20 days annual leave. In practice, many companies allow additional holidays as part of their benefits package and the time. Some employers adopt a “leave year” policy and employees have to take their holidays during a specified period of the year. Those working part-time are entitled to paid holidays of 6 hours for every 100 worked.

As well as the annual holiday entitlement, there are several public holidays in Ireland. These are:

  • 1st January: New Year’s Day
  • 17th March: Saint Patrick’s Day
  • First Monday in May: Labour Day
  • First Monday in June: June Holiday
  • First Monday in August: August Holiday
  • Last Monday in October: October Holiday
  • 25th December: Christmas Day
  • 26th December: Saint Stephen’s Day

Employees who do not work over a Bank Holiday will still receive a full day’s pay. Those who do work are usually paid and also receive a paid day off in lieu. It is quite common for companies to pay employees  extra when working on a Bank Holiday.

Working hours

In Ireland, the average working week must not exceed a maximum of 48 hours for many employees, in accordance with the European Working Time Directive. Employees are also entitled to a 15 minute break after 4 hour’s work and a further 15 minute break after a 6 hour work period. These breaks are unpaid.

Offices are generally open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on Monday to  Friday with a lunch break of one hour. It is still common for companies to close entirely for lunch between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. and not to answer the phone during this time. On weekends, they usually close offices. Opening hours in retail are usually 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. during the week with slightly shorter hours on weekends. Banks open at 10.00 a.m. and close at 4.00 p.m. and on weekends they usually close. Opening hours of government offices are 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. during the week and on weekends they close.

Health insurance

Citizens of the European Union are eligible to receive the same level of health care as the citizens of Ireland. This does not mean that all  medical care is provided  free of charge, some minor charges do apply. Depending on an individual’s income, they  can be eligible for an Irish medical card which entitles them to the full range of medical services at no cost.

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