CSO publishes figures on personal and work-life balance for 2021

29 April 2022

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) this month released three publications on the results of the Personal and Work-Life Balance Survey carried out in Q3, 2021. The last of these publications, on remote working, was released this week. 

The first publication covered 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. The key findings indicated that full-time workers in larger organisations are more likely to take annual leave than their part-time counterparts. Length of service also had a role to play in determining a worker’s likelihood to take annual leave.

The most common barrier to taking paid leave was being short staffed. For employees with children, 13% had to keep their leave for school holidays while 7% needed to keep annual leave in case their children took ill. Meanwhile, part-time workers in firms with 100 people or more were almost two times as likely to encounter barriers to taking unpaid leave. 

Almost 17% of employees surveyed availed of flexible hours within the 12 months prior to interview. The use of flexible hours was more prevalent for those with children as opposed to those without children. Positively, more than 90% of workers are aware of their entitlements to breaks at work. However, there was less awareness of the entitlement to daily rest periods and breastfeeding/lactation breaks.

Despite barriers to leave for some employees, the CSO’s second publication of the series points to high job and life satisfaction amongst the Irish population. Most people (89%) aged 18 years and older are satisfied with their life and there is similar job satisfaction ratings amongst employees. Of the small few who are dissatisfied with their job, work pressures such as long hours or overtime, and lack of promotional opportunities bore the biggest negative impact on job satisfaction.

Employees interviewed who were most likely to leave their job within the next six months were mainly those in temporary or part-time positions or who were with their current employer for only a short period. For persons currently not in employment, the main barrier to returning to work was long-standing health problems, caring for dependent family or friends, and childcare issues. For 21% of those not currently working, there were no barriers preventing a return to work.

The third and final publication of the series focused on remote working. The findings highlighted that 39% of employees were remote working at some stage during 2021, compared to only 8% availing of some form of remote working pre-COVID-19. Full-time employees in large organisations (100 people or more) were most likely to have worked remotely in the 12 months prior to interview. Professionals were most likely to have worked remotely (63%), followed by managers, directors and senior officials, and associate professional and technical in joint second place (51%). Skilled trade workers had the lowest level of uptake of remote working at 3% by comparison. 

Coming back to overall job and life satisfaction, workers reported high satisfaction levels, with little difference in levels based on an employee’s working arrangements. However, workers who were working mostly from home, with a mix of office, hub, or travel were most satisfied with both their job (92%) and life as a whole (94%). By Q3, 2021, almost one quarter of workers were back in the workplace fully and had not availed of remote working in the prior four weeks, while 26% of workers were back in the workplace at least a number of days per week.