Ireland ranks bottom of EU and just above US in social benefits

Ireland is ranked as second 'least generous' by study of welfare systems of many major nations

Ireland ranks far behind other EU nations in terms of social benefits, offering benefits closer to the US than many other European nations.

Research by Glassdoor puts the benefits of various nations against each other – including EU nations, the US and Switzerland.

Read the full report here

On almost every measure Ireland ranks towards the low end of the scale, and overall is second-last only to the US – where many standard social benefits mandated under EU law are non-existent.

Image: Ireland ranks above only the US in terms of paid leave and unemployment benefits

  • Unemployment benefits

Ireland was also ranked as one of the lowest nations in terms of unemployment benefit. When benefits and period of eligibility are taken into account we sit at the bottom with the UK and the US.

Denmark offers the most – paying 90% of previous earnings for up to 104 weeks.

Belgium offers 65% of prior earnings for 13 weeks, after which the rate begins to decline.

In the UK there is a flat rate of either €66 or $84 per week, for 26 weeks.

Ireland pays €188 (to those aged over 25) per week, for between 22 and 33 weeks, depending on contributions.

After this point of eligibility expires a person must go on to Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is means tested.

The US by comparison offers somewhere between 40% to 50% of earnings for up to 26 weeks, depending on the state.

The majority of countries offer employment benefit rates as a percentage of previous earnings – with a payment ceiling.

  • Maternity Leave

The EU minimum maternity leave is 14 weeks, but above that the time granted in each country can vary widely.
Ireland offers one of the longest periods of paid leave, but the lowest rate of pay for much of that time.

With 42 weeks leave, Ireland is second only to the UK (with 52), and well ahead of countries such as Spain, Germany, France, Austria and Denmark – all who hover somewhere between the 14 week minimum and 22 weeks.

The marker on which Ireland lags behind however is the rate of pay, with 26 of the 42 weeks at just €230 per week. This is the lowest of all countries.

In Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands mothers get 100% of their previous earnings for the entire period of leave.

Italy covers 80% of earnings, for the entire period of leave.

In the UK the first six weeks are paid at 90% of earnings, but that drops to £140 (€181) per week for a further 33 weeks, with the final 13 weeks unpaid.

As with almost every marker in the study the U.S. falls well behind, offering no mandated paid maternity leave.

Image: Ireland offers one of the highest lengths of time for maternity leave, but one of the lowest levels of pay

  • Paternity Leave

In terms of paternity leave Ireland is at the bottom of the pile, currently offering no paid leave. Although this is due to change in September of this year, from which point fathers will be entitled to 14 days leave.

Finland offers the most paternity leave – 45 days – while Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the US are, like Ireland, currently offering zero days.

Image: Ireland currently ranks lowest with 0 paternity days, but this will increase to 14 in September

  • Paid Holidays

The EU minimum paid holiday entitlement is four weeks per year, exclusive of paid public holidays. Some countries go above this, while some, including Ireland, remain at the basic level.

At the top of the pile, Sweden, France, and Denmark offer 25 working days - five weeks. At the very bottom of the ranking is the US, which has no statutory minimum amount for paid leave.

Ireland offers four weeks, 20 days, with nine paid public holidays – which is towards the lower end of the scale.

  • Paid Sick Leave

Sick leave and pay is another metric where Ireland trails behind our European neighbours.

The Netherlands tops the chart with 104 weeks with 70% of their earnings.

The UK offers the least – 28 weeks at a flat rate of £88 (€114).

In Ireland the level of sick pay and allowed leave is dependent on the employment contract. The report finds it is common for employees to be paid 100% of earnings for around 13 weeks and 50% for the next 13 weeks.

The US has, again, no statutory mandate for paid sick leave.

Live from @ElectionNT