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STRESSED, overworked and broke — and that’s just during the holidays.
Irish employees might dream of their two-week summer break all year but a significant proportion find that getting away from it all is not as easy or as fun as they had hoped. One in four workers say they do two weeks work in one in order to clear their desks in the run-up to their holidays, half spend the first few days of their precious break feeling as tense as if they had never left the office and two-thirds of those with children find the cost a serious burden. Half still check their work emails while on holidays and just over a third take calls relating to work, with those in senior or managerial roles or people employed in the IT, finance or sales sectors finding it hardest to switch their phones off. The findings, from a survey by recruitment company IrishJobs.ie, would not be so bad if it was not for the fact that holidays are all the more important to Irish workers, who have one of the lowest annual leave entitlements in Europe. A survey by hotels.com, found only British workers have fewer days off than their Irish counterparts, with a total of 28 paid leave days and public holidays compared to 29 in Ireland. The Swedes and Portuguese have the most laid-back attitude of all, enjoying 39 days in total while the average across Europe is 34. Even in Germany, a country renowned for its work ethic, employees can get as many as 38 days off in the more generous federal states, while Denmark tops the list for the highest number of annual workplace leave days, 27, topped off by 11 public holidays. Irish workers by contrast have 20 annual leave days and nine public holidays, a total shared with the Netherlands. Other countries boost their public holiday quota to 14 by formally recognising as holidays events such as Midsummer’s Day, All Saints’ Day, the Epiphany and various dates relating to their independence. On a positive note, despite the difficulties Irish workers have getting time off work, winding down and pushing the reject button on their phones, 71% have taken or plan to take a break, while a further 10% are undecided, so getting a break away still remains a high priority. Valerie Sorohan of IrishJobs.ie said it was important workers made the most of their time off. "To make sure you get the most out of your holiday it is necessary to plan and prepare, putting strategies in place that will help you manage your workload in the run up and the week after you return from holidays," she said. "While it can be very tempting to keep an eye on your inbox, it is more important to return to your workplace refreshed, revitalised and more productive." For some workers, however, the holiday season is too long. One in three working parents says the summer is the most stressful time for them because of the extra childcare demands when children are off school, while almost two-thirds found them too costly, saying they spent more money entertaining their children during the summer than at other times of the year.