Annual Leave Decreases to 21 Days for Irish Workers

Annual Leave Decreases to 21 Days for Irish Workers’s 2016 Vacation Deprivation study reveals that Ireland comes in at the very bottom for annual vacation days in Europe. Since 2013 the trend had seen Irish workers annual leave days increase incrementally, and that has now reversed. Irish travellers are now down 7% to only 21 days annually, while those in Britain get on average 25 days. France, Germany, Italy and Spain get even more than Britain, offering 30 annual leave days on average.

The Expedia 2016 Vacation Deprivation study of travel habits was conducted by surveying 9,424 employed adults across 28 countries around the world. This is the 16th year that Expedia has fielded this study.

Despite having less leave than the average European, Irish workers do make sure to take all that they are offered: 80% of Irish workers said they take all of their annual leave, and four out of five Irish respondents said they don’t feel any guilt about it. While European workers tend to feel entitled to their leave, the number varies widely around the world. Workers in the Asia–Pacific region report feeling the most guilt taking leave. Only 41% of Japanese workers and 31% of South Korean workers say they don’t feel guilt for taking leave.

Being at the bottom of the scale in Europe when it comes to paid leave hasn’t gone unnoticed: Irish people strongly agree that their average holiday days should be brought up in line with European averages, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents saying they feel they deserve 1-10 more holiday days. The workers surveyed believed they deserved 6.4 more holiday days on average. However when it came to work perks, flexible work hours (30%) and the ability to work from home (28%) each proved more popular than the amount of responses for more vacation time (16%).

Irish workers would be willing to give up their creature comforts for a few more days holidays: 49% of Irish workers would give up alcohol for a week to get just one extra day of annual leave. Dessert (46%), social media (47%), television (28%) and coffee (38%) round out the top five things Irish people would be willing to give up. Only a fifth said they would be willing to give up sex.

Despite having slim pickings when it comes to annual leave days, only 45% of Irish workers consider themselves somewhat vacation deprived, or don’t think they are deprived at all. This is compared to the Spaniards, who get on average 30 annual leave days, but 68% say they are vacation deprived.

The Irish are not as adventurous as you might expect, although 72% of Irish travellers say they are happiest on holidays when exploring somewhere new. Only one in 10 (13%) of people surveyed by Expedia said they would feel comfortable going on a last-minute vacation the next day if given the opportunity. The Norwegians, Danes and the Swiss were much more spontaneous, with 35%, 43% and 36% respectively saying they would go on holidays tomorrow if they could.

Those who do not use up their vacation days in a given year are putting them towards something special. Almost one in four (23%) of Irish respondents said they would bank their days for a longer vacation next year. Almost two-thirds (60%) of Irish travellers surveyed said they preferred one long holiday and several short vacations, and less than 15% said they typically take their vacation days as just one long holiday each year.

Given the size of the island of Ireland (and the weather!) it should come as no surprise that over a quarter (28%) of Irish people surveyed said they feel more rested when they have travelled outside of Ireland, and almost two-thirds (63%) said that regular vacations are important for general health and wellbeing.

Vacation Practices by Country




Vacation Days Offered


Vacation Days Taken


Unused Days

Australia 20 15 5
Austria 25 25 0
Belgium 24 23 1
Brazil 30 30 0
Canada 15 14 1
Denmark 25 25 0
Finland 30 30 0
France 30 30 0
Germany 30 28 2
Hong Kong 14 14 0
Ireland 21 21 0
India 21 15 6
Italy 30 25 5
Japan 20 10 10
Malaysia 16 12 4
Mexico 15 12 3
Netherlands 25 22 3
New Zealand 20 19 1
Norway 25 25 0
Singapore 18 14 4
South Korea 15 8 7
Spain 30 30 0
Sweden 25 25 0
Switzerland 25 25 0
Thailand 15 12 3
UAE 30 30 0
United Kingdom 25 25 0
USA 15 12 3


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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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