Over one-in-five workers did not take any annual leave in 2021, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have shown.
The biggest barrier to taking paid leave last year was workplaces being short-staffed, according to the CSO data on work-life balance.
The survey was carried out between the months of July and September in 2021 which Maureen Delamere, Statistician described as “a time when there were varying levels of Covid-19 in the community, with related restrictions, which would likely have impacted on annual leave, sick leave, and other forms of leave from work”.
Just six in 10 employees working in the ‘caring, leisure, and other services’ sector took annual leave over the previous year, compared to 92% in the ‘associate professional and technical’ occupation group.
The survey found that one in eight workers with children had to keep their leave for school holidays, while one in 14 needed to keep it in case their children got sick.
Part-time workers in workplaces with 100 people or more were found to be almost twice as likely as their full-time colleagues to encounter barriers to taking unpaid leave.
Nearly two-thirds of employees stated that being short-staffed was the reason they were denied leave.
It was also found that refusal of annual leave requests was the most common type of leave refused at 91.4%.
Moreover, 13% said that taking unpaid leave was harmful to their career, especially so for workers with no children.
Overall, one in five workers had taken sick leave in the previous year, though one in 16 took unpaid sick leave during this time.
One in 12 part-time employees working in small organisations of less than 20 people took paid sick leave over the previous year, a figure which was doubled for full-time employees.
The survey also found that part-time workers with a length of service of 10 years or less were more likely to take unpaid sick leave than their full-time colleagues.
One in seven working part-time with less than five years’ service took unpaid sick leave, double the figure for their full-time colleagues with similar service.
One-fifth of lone-parent workers took unpaid sick leave, compared with 6.1% of workers of families with two adults with dependent children, and 3.8% of households where there were three or more adults residing with children.
Results of the survey show that almost 17% of employees had availed of flexible hours in the 12 months prior to the interview.
However, 35% of workers with children used flexitime for almost all of the previous four weeks, compared with 14% of workers who did not have children.
Just over 4% of employees took paid maternity or adoptive leave in 2021, while just 1.4% took unpaid maternity or adoptive leave.
Unpaid parental leave was taken by one in 50 workers in the survey, while one in 20 took compassionate leave and 1.7% took force majeure leave.
Almost 3% of workers had their request for compassionate leave refused in the past two years.
Over 90% of workers were aware of their entitlements to breaks at work, however, there was less awareness of the entitlement to daily rest periods and breastfeeding/lactation breaks.