Irish Employment Law In Brief: March 2022

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 8 March 2022
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Equal Pay, Menopause, Covid-19

This month’s 'In Brief' focuses on all things female in recognition of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8th March! We’ve highlighted the key themes, to help you keep up to date with developments.

Sex(ism) and the City

58% of women say they have experienced harassment in their workplace, a new survey from HR consultancy HR Buddy reveals.  The survey also reveals that three out of four respondents said they are not confident that they will not experience harassment in the future.  Of the women who say they have been harassed, only four in ten reported it.

Of those who did report it, one in four said the employer dealt with the issue "very well", while one in four said it was not dealt with at all and half said that the employer "did not deal with it very well".

HR Buddy defines harassment as unwanted conduct which is related to discrimination or sexual harassment which is unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical contact or unwelcome propositions.  When asked what had been most impacted as a result of the harassment, 31% choose their mental health, while 24% choose morale and 13% choose attendance.

But changes are afoot, could Irish law firms follow in the footsteps of their GB counterparts? A leading law firm in GB which represents some of the UK's richest men and women is set to ditch 'Dear Sir/Madam' from its letters.  Withers LLP, which has offices around the world, including London, has urged its lawyers to stop using the traditional introduction in a bid to be more 'gender neutral'.   It comes after one partner at the renowned law firm took to social media to campaign for an end to the use of the phrase 'Dear Sirs' on letters. 

Normalising the Menopause

Caroline Reidy, Managing Director of the HR Suite presented a great webinar on menopause in the workplace, ensuring that this ‘hot topic’ (see what I did there?!) stays on the agenda. Caroline outlines the importance of having an awareness of the impact that menopause can have on females and creating a culture of support and understanding on the subject of menopause. Caroline also discusses key areas to include when drafting a menopause policy.

Covid-19 Benefited Women (well there had to be some silver-lining!)

The rise in working from home during Covid-19 appears to have helped a number of women get back into work, an Ulster University (UU) study suggests. The report is based on official data, a survey and interviews carried out by UU's Economic Policy Centre (EPC).

And Covid-19 has increased the focus on flexible working. Women, younger people and the lower paid are strongly in favour of more flexible working arrangements according to a poll carried out on behalf of the Labour Party. In a survey carried out by Ireland Thinks, 71% of respondents agreed that employees who can work remotely should have the right to do so. Some 81% of women, compared to 63% of men, agreed that workers should have the right to more flexible work. The nationally representative sample of 1,369 respondents found that 67% of residents in Dublin agreed with the right to flexible work compared to 74% of respondents in rural areas.

Gender Pay Gap

Fancy working for free for two months of the year.  According to the TUC women already do just that! They report that the average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man, according to analysis published by the TUC last week.  The gender pay gap for all employees is 15.4 per cent. This pay gap means that women wait 56 days before they start to get paid on Women’s Pay Day. 

The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021 was signed into law by the President in July 2021. We currently await specific Regulations which are due before the summer.  The legal requirement to publicly publish your organisation’s Gender Pay Gap will in time apply to every employer in Ireland with 50 or more employees.  Legal Island will be hosting a Gender Pay Gap event on the 16th June in association with Addleshaw Goddard; why not book your place now and get ahead.  You can find out more here

National Strategy on Gender-Based Violence

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has opened a public consultation on the Government’s third national strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.  The public consultation is running for three weeks ahead of the publication of the final strategy in April. The overall goal of the new strategy, which has been designed with those working in the sector and on the frontline, is clear - zero tolerance in Irish society for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

The public consultation which opened on Thursday 17th February is in the form of an online survey, which will ask people’s views on domestic, sexual, gender-based violence and what they would like to see in the new strategy.

The Law Society of Ireland is calling for meaningful action to increase diversity and inclusion among the 2022 awarding of Patents of Precedence to improve representation of solicitors, women and those with diverse backgrounds.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession

Solicitors were first permitted to apply for the grant of a Patent of Precedence and use the title of senior counsel in 2020, with 29 solicitors having received this recognition to date.  Chairperson of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Capacity Law Task Force, Áine Hynes S.C. said,

Women are in the majority of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland and it is vital that the knowledge, experience and contribution to society by women is enhanced. We need to progress diversity among senior counsel to reflect Irish society, and this starts with empowering more women to apply.

It was the honour of a lifetime to be among the first women solicitors to use the title senior counsel. I look forward to seeing many more solicitors, and many more women solicitors, apply for and receive the Patent of Precedence in the years ahead.”

On a final note, friend of Legal Island, Michelle Ní Longáin, Partner at Byrnewallace LLP was appointed as President of the Law Society of Ireland for the year 2021/2022 becoming the fifth woman in the history of the Society to serve as president.



This article is correct at 08/03/2022

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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