Managing Menopause

25th February 2024

Posted In: FYI

Irish employers risk being sued for discrimination if they fail to make their workplaces menopause friendly. The warning from The Menopause Hub CEO and founder, Loretta Dignam, comes as fresh UK guidelines state that severe menopausal symptoms can now be considered a disability if they have a “long-term and substantial impact” on an employee’s performance.

Loretta said she expected similar guidelines to be introduced in this country soon.

“The latest development in Britain could open the floodgates in this country for a raft of fresh legal actions, based on gender, age and disability discrimination, raised by women in their 40s and 50s,” she said.

“Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman has commissioned research on menopause and menstrual health in the workplace in Ireland and we should expect new guidelines later this year.

“Ireland has a tendency to cherry-pick the latest developments in UK employment practices and apply them here, therefore Irish employers must now start to think about how they can make their working environments more menopause friendly.

“Simple adjustments, such as more training for HR staff and greater flexibility for employees going through menopause, not only bring substantial benefits to the workplace, they also help protect employers from expensive legal battles.”

In its new guidance, the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission states organisations could face legal action under British disability laws if they fail to provide “reasonable adjustments”, such as adequate temperature controls in the office, appropriate uniforms, and working from home arrangements, to help staff manage menopausal symptoms.

Research by The Menopause Hub found that one third of Irish women had seriously considered quitting their jobs because of the impact of menopausal symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, brain fog, and insomnia, was having on their performance at work.

The October 2023 survey of almost 3,000 women also found that one in seven had given up work because of menopause.

Pictured: Menopause Hub founder and CEO, Loretta Dignam (Image – Conor McCabe).