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Magnus is an art identification app that allows users to take a picture of a piece of art to find out what it is and what its estimated cost is. Using both the most advanced technologies and years of tireless data compilation and manual data entry, it created a unique platform, showing not only prices from galleries and auctions, but also exhibition histories of galleries, museums etc.

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Irish abroad: How do jobs, leave, and other perks compare?

Jan 3, 2022

From maternity cover to paternity leave, from annual holidays to minimum wage, Joyce Fegan spoke with Irish people abroad to see how the jobs market in each of their adopted homes compares to Ireland. Siun Creedon Prochazka with daughter Marketa and son Alvy.      Joyce Fegan We travel for work, move countries for jobs, change companies to get better benefits, and, in the right situation, a decent employer — alongside adequate workers' rights — can often be the difference between being happy or unhappy at work, regardless of the specific figure on your monthly paycheque. In Ireland, our current minimum wage is €10.20 an hour, and the average annual earnings for all employees is just under €40,000, but about €45,000 for full-time employees. And when it comes to annual leave here, most employees are entitled to four weeks — but your leave depends on how much you have worked within a "leave year". So how does this compare to the lives of our citizens abroad? Czech Republic  For Dingle native Siun Creedon Prochazka, Prague in the Czech Republic is her home, where she lives with her husband and two children, Marketa, 3, and Alvy, 9. The Czech Republic is a lot like Ireland when it comes to annual leave. "By law, the minimum is four paid weeks a year, with a week of sick days on top," explains Siun. "This might be more for government workers and employees of private companies." When it comes to maternity leave, it is almost exactly the same as Ireland's statutory cover of 26 weeks, however, expectant mothers must start their leave well before their baby is actually due. And while in Ireland women receive €245 from the State for the 26-week period, it's higher in the Czech Republic. "Maternity pay is 28 weeks and needs to start at the very latest, six weeks before the due date," says Siun. "It is calculated at 70% of the woman’s working wage. "Maternal leave is possible up to four years [after the child's birth], with most women choosing three years." This is necessary, as there is no public funding for childcare until a child is three in the Czech Republic, much like in Ireland, bar the nominal contributions towards private care as part of the National Childcare Scheme. However, in the Czech Republic, there is a chunk of money set aside for parents under parental leave. "For parental leave, after 28 weeks of maternity pay, there is a set amount of money that is available, €11,800, and this must be used by the child's fourth birthday," says Siun. Canada  Gerald Flynn with wife Meggan and baby girl Clara. Gerald Flynn, originally from Limerick, has been living in Ontario, Canada, for eight years. He lives there with his wife Meggan, and their 10-month-old baby girl Clara. He works for an elevator company at the moment, where he receives extra benefits, but the benefits are very specific to the job. But first off, the Limerick native says the jobs market is buoyant in Ontario. "Jobs are plentiful, and typical time off is three weeks a year," says Gerald, who adds that there is a very large gender pay gap in Ontario of about 30%. Recent statistics from Canada show there is a 14% gender pay gap for average hourly wages, a 25% one for average annual earnings, both full-time and full-year workers, and a 29% gender pay gap when it comes to average annual earnings for all earners. "That is hard to break," says Gerald. He also says that your postal address is a good indicator of pay expectations in Ontario. "Depending on your zip code or distance from Toronto, that can give you an idea of what you could be paid," he says. And when it comes to competitiveness in the jobs market, and turnover, it's very like America in that regard. "Somewhat like the US, there isn’t much incentive to stay at one company if they’re paying the same as all the others. It's the work culture that will drive turnover," he says. "Some industries are better than others, however, such as the elevator one which I am currently in boasts a lot of benefits, such as a free car. "  Canada and Canadian multinationals have been leaders when it comes to workers' rights, especially when it comes to family. Gerald, who became a first-time father in 2021 to baby Clara, is pleased with the parental leave on offer. "As regards parental leave, it's pretty good," he says. "You can both take parental and maternity leave, and they’re substantial. "As of March 2019, all Canadian parents have 40 weeks of parental leave, five of which are specifically meant for dads to take time off work to care for their newborn. "  In fact, there is even a special incentive for partners, especially fathers, to take time off. This is in contrast to Ireland, where paternity leave uptake is low. "There is a special incentive for new dads also, so long as you have logged enough hours at your work," says Gerald. Sweden  Eileen Littorin and husband Magnus in 2004. For Cork woman Eileen Littorin, Stockholm in Sweden is her current home, where she lives with her husband Magnus and their two children, David, 7, and Sophia, 6. Once again, Sweden leads the way when it comes to social benefits, including employee rights. However, that said, there is no statutory minimum wage in Sweden, but the average monthly salary works out at about €4,400. Eileen tells the Irish Examiner, however, that leave is good where workers in Sweden get about 30 days' leave a year, and this excludes national holidays. "People generally get about 30 days a year of holidays, outside bank holidays and national days, etc," says Eileen. But it is parental leave that is something to really write home about. "Parental leave is phenomenal," explains Eileen. "Both parents get about 480 days between them, per child. You receive money from the government, based on your salary, to stay home." And these 480 days are there to be used well past the moment your child is potty trained and able to write their own name. "You can split or share the days between you as you like, and you can use them up until the child is nine. So, let's say the kids' school is closed, we can use a day to stay home with them. "This is different from the sick days you're entitled to for your kids, where you're also paid to stay home with them. "  Eileen, who works as a teacher, says how much you get to stay home depends on your salary. "How much you get is a percentage of your salary, so means-tested," she says. "I can only talk about pay in schools, where Swedish public schools actually pay a lot better than private or international schools." The Netherlands  Caitríona Rush Caitríona Rush lives in The Hague in The Netherlands with her husband and two children, aged 10 and 7. While The Netherlands is often seen as the beacon of progressive policies when it comes to social benefits, workers' rights aren't exceptionally advanced. "Holidays here are pretty good, 25 days on average," says Caitríona. "Often people will have a contract for 36 or 38 hours a week, but work 40, thereby building up extra days throughout the year." However, maternity leave isn't the greatest in The Netherlands. "Maternity leave is pretty bad here," she says. "You get 16 weeks, and you have to take four to six weeks of that before the baby is born. "  When it comes to partners, that leave has improved a little, but not a lot. "Paternity leave has improved somewhat — it was two days, and has gone up to one work week." Caitríona estimates that pay is probably more or less the same as here, but living costs are lower in The Netherlands, so your paycheque goes further. The average minimum wage is about €11 there at the moment, and the average annual salary comes in at about €36,000. United Arab Emirates   Ailbhe Storan Ailbhe Storan, originally from Limerick City, lives in Dubai with her husband. The United Arab Emirates is somewhere people typically move to specifically for work, especially as you pay no income tax. But salaries vary across sectors, says Ailbhe. "In the main, I would say that salaries are competitive, but this varies depending on the industry and whether you work for a public or private or a local or multinational company," she says. "The main advantage is the zero income tax — in that you take home your whole paycheque. "  As to whether pay packets are actually very competitive in Dubai, the Limerick native says people have recently been locating from there to Saudi Arabia for bigger packages. "Recently, we’ve seen a recruitment drive from Saudi Arabia, and lots of expats are relocating from the UAE to Saudi for lucrative packages," she explains. When it comes to holidays, they vary depending on the employer, the industry, and even the lunar cycle. "There are 14 official public holidays in the UAE throughout the year, and mark religious, historic and special occasions," she says. "These fall under two categories: fixed holidays that occur annually, such as the UAE National Day or the New Year holiday, and variable dates based on the Islamic [Hijri] calendar. "Islamic holidays are scheduled according to the sighting of the moon. Annual leave days are up to the employer, and can depend on the working sector. "  However, when it comes to maternity leave, workers get just over a month at full pay. "There are 45 days' maternity full-pay and 15 days half-pay, and five days parental," says Ailbhe, who adds that the private sector usually has its own policies in place. Portugal  Sonya Coogan Sonya Coogan, originally from Co Monaghan, now lives in Lisbon, Portugal — a city that has become increasingly popular as an emigration destination for Irish people — with her husband and two stepchildren. But even though more and more Irish people are moving there for cheaper rents and a beach lifestyle, Sonya, who runs the Irish in Lisbon Facebook page , warns that you need to look for a job before you arrive. "I run an Irish in Lisbon Facebook page, and when people come on to the page about finding work, I always tell them to try and get a job before they come to Lisbon or Portugal," says Sonya. Salaries can be as low as €800 a month. "It's very difficult [to find work], and the salaries are dreadful, you're talking maybe €800 to €1,000 a month — that's the minimum," says Sonya. "Outside of Lisbon, you're talking €800 a month maximum." But is the cost of living far cheaper, and so it balances itself out? While rent can be about €800 to €1,000 a month in the city, so that's your paycheque gone if you're living alone, Sonya says that the cost of living is the same as Ireland, if you think in terms of a grocery shop or running a car. "The cost of living, I find, is not very different — fuel, running a car, buying a car is more expensive, insurance, all of that," she says. "I do my weekly shop, and it's my husband and my two step kids, and it's the same as Ireland. Alcohol is a lot cheaper, but the food itself is expensive." Read More

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