Research Report No.1

CCRU home background on CCRU community relations equality and equity research

Employment Equality Review

Research Report No.1

THE FAIR EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION
- SURVEY OF EMPLOYERS' EXPERIENCES


Central Community Relations Unit

September 1993

FAIR EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION

SURVEY OF EMPLOYERS

JUNE 1992


Prepared for: CENTRAL COMMUNITY RELATIONS UNIT
Prepared by: MARKET RESEARCH NORTHERN IRELAND LTD



TABLE OF CONTENTS


FOREWORD
CHAPTER ONE : INTRODUCTION TO THE SURVEY
Sample Structure
Information Generation
Questionnaire Design
Results
CHAPTER TWO : THE PREPARATION FOR STATUTORY MONITORING
Assistance with the Monitoring Exercise
Additional Staff and Costs
CHAPTER THREE : THE MONITORING EXERCISE
Administrative Arrangements
Reactions of the Work force
The Degree of Difficulty Encountered
CHAPTER FOUR : THE IMPACT UPON EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES
The Section 31 Review
APPENDIX ONE : SAMPLE STRATIFICATION
APPENDIX TWO : RESPONSES BY INDUSTRIAL SECTOR AND COMPANY SIZE
APPENDIX THREE : WEIGHTS APPLIED TO RESPONDENTS
APPENDIX FOUR : QUESTIONNAIRE
APPENDIX FIVE : TABULAR REPORT

FOREWORD

In the autumn of 1991, as part of the Review of Employment Equality in Northern Ireland, the Central Community Relations Unit commissioned a survey into the experiences of employers in complying with the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1989. The survey was conducted by Market Research Northern Ireland Ltd. who have produced this report on the findings.



CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION TO THE SURVEY


In November 1991 Market Research Northern Ireland Ltd (MRNI) won the contract to conduct a survey of employers, designed to obtain information on their experiences in complying with the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1989 during the early stages of its operation.

As suggested by the Central Community Relations Unit (CCRU), the research was based on a postal survey of a stratified random sample of employers registered with the Fair Employment Commission (FEC).


Sample Structure

The sample for the research was drawn from those companies who completed a 1990 monitoring return and from Public Sector organisations.

The sample was drawn by the FEC from their database of employers in accordance with CCRU specifications and provided information in respect of each sampled employer as follows:

  • NAME AND ADDRESS

  • WHETHER PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SECTOR

  • NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES

  • SIC DIVISION

  • LOCATION - BELFAST/EAST/WEST

In order to achieve an accurate representation of the Province's employers, a proportionate stratified sample using a uniform sampling fraction of one third was drawn to provide a sample of 596 employers. Details of the stratification can be found in Appendix One.


Information Generation

Information was gathered through use of a postal questionnaire which was sent to the sample of 596 companies and organisations. In order to generate responses a four stage procedure was undertaken.

STAGE ONE : Delivery of survey and covering/ explanatory letter to sample members with a three week cut off date for responses.
STAGE TWO : Delivery of reminder survey and covering letter to non-respondents with a two week cut off date.
STAGE THREE : Telephone reminder to non-respondents with a one week cut off date for returns.
STAGE FOUR : Telephone reminder to non-respondents to set up personal interview or achieve postal response.


Fieldwork commenced in February 1992 and was completed in May 1992. An overall response rate of 62% was achieved with response rates to each of the stages as follows:

STAGE RESPONSE RATE
STAGE ONE
34%
STAGE TWO
17%
STAGE THREE
8%
STAGE FOUR
3%
TOTAL
62%


Further details of the response rates by industrial sector and company size are contained in Appendix Two.

Due to some shortfalls in certain employer sizes and industrial sectors a series of weights were imposed upon the data to provide a more meaningful interpretation and ensure accurate overall representation of all sectors. The weighting factors used may be found in Appendix Three.


Questionnaire Design

An outline questionnaire was supplied by CCRU providing a comprehensive framework for the final questionnaire which was issued to employers in the sample.

The questionnaire was formatted, computer coded and printed by MRNI, in consultation with CCRU, to produce a document which was easy to follow and complete. A copy of the questionnaire may be found in Appendix Four.

Results

The remaining chapters of the report present the main findings of the survey. Tables showing the answers given to each question may be found in Appendix Five.



CHAPTER 2

THE PREPARATION FOR STATUTORY MONITORING

Assistance with the Monitoring Exercise

The majority of Northern Ireland companies first began monitoring their workforces in 1990 in compliance with the provisions of the 1989 Act.

Public sector organisations and larger companies had, however, shown a tendency to monitor staff earlier than smaller employers. Almost half of all companies employing over 100 had begun the monitoring process prior to their statutory obligation as opposed to a quarter of smaller companies.

In conducting the monitoring exercise almost all companies and organisations made use of the Fair Employment Code of Practice, with the majority finding it a useful aid to the monitoring process, especially those in larger organisations and the public sector. In general terms a quarter of companies found the code of practice ' very useful' whilst a further two thirds found it 'quite useful'.

Many companies looked no further than the Code of Practice for assistance, with only 41% actually making contact with the FEC for advice or information. The public sector displayed a much higher tendency to do so, being twice as likely to have made contact as the private sector.

Those who contacted the FEC about the monitoring process found them to be helpful, especially those in larger companies where over half found them 'very helpful'.

Contact with the FEC during 1990 and 1991 over matters other than registration and monitoring had been experienced by just under a quarter of all companies. The main reasons for such contact were related to the investigation of complaints or to ask for procedural guidelines on Fair Employment Practice. Once again the FEC performance in dealing with such employer contact was highly regarded with 8 out of every 10 companies expressing satisfaction.

Among respondents, just over half of all private sector companies who were eligible for assistance under the Fair Employment Support Scheme actually applied for it, with the greatest tendency to do so displayed by companies with over 100 employees. Those who did receive assistance found it to be very useful especially in terms of monitoring and personnel procedures. In addition, small companies, (i.e. those with less than 50 employees), found the information systems component of use, whilst some larger companies were appreciative of training in the use of tests.

For almost three quarters of all companies, the 1990 monitoring exercise represented an integral part of an overall equal opportunities policy within the company. This finding was slightly more common in the public sector and was unaffected by company size.

To the majority of companies, however, monitoring equal opportunity in the workplace relates only to religion and sex with less than one third including other areas such as marital status or disability in their monitoring process.


Additional Staff and Costs

In order to undertake the 1990 monitoring exercise and, more generally, comply with the new Fair Employment legislation, less than one in ten companies employed additional staff with the public sector and large companies most likely to take on additional people.

However, four in ten companies incurred additional costs in complying with the monitoring exercise with public sector and large companies again having the greatest frequency of additional expenditure.

The purpose of these additional costs was varied, although staff/management time and additional stationery were the most often quoted expenses.

For the public sector and large companies, computerisation was a key expenditure item whereas the expenses incurred by smaller companies were more attributable to the purchase of general office equipment.

Of reported items of additional expenditure most were below £1,000. The public sector and large companies were more likely to have invested larger amounts of capital in the monitoring procedure than other employers.



CHAPTER 3

THE MONITORING EXERCISE

Administrative Arrangements

Few companies used more than two or three people in conducting the monitoring exercise with 40% using only one staff member.

In terms of company structure few private sector companies made any organisational changes in order to carry out the exercise, unlike the public sector where 27% of organisations made structural changes to facilitate the procedure.

Administration of the exercise was undertaken manually in the majority of organisations. However, this was not the case in the public sector where almost two thirds undertook computerised analysis of staff.

Very few companies regarded monitoring as a low priority exercise. As expected the public sector had a relatively high regard for monitoring with three quarters regarding it as being of high priority. In terms of company size, the priority of the exercise was directly proportional to the size of the company - the larger the company the higher the priority, the smaller the company the lower the priority.

Just over half of all companies took steps to encourage staff co-operation in the monitoring process. The likelihood of taking such steps increased in proportion to the size of the employer and was higher in the public than the private sector.

The main steps taken by companies to encourage co-operation were letters to employees and staff meetings.


Reactions of the Workforce

Consultation took place with trade union representatives in just under half of those companies with organised unions. Consultation was particularly high in the public sector with almost three quarters of all public sector bodies consulting with their trade union representatives prior to undertaking the monitoring exercise.

Of those companies who have organised trade unions, the reported reaction of the union to the legislation was either positive or unremarkable. Very few were actually negative or resistant to the legislation, with outright support noticeably higher in the public sector and larger companies.

A few companies felt that response to the monitoring exercise had been low in certain occupational groups - especially in the public sector and larger companies where manual workers were generally felt to be the least responsive.


The Degree of Difficulty Encountered

The principal method of monitoring most favoured was the direct question, especially in the private sector where it was used by over three quarters of all companies. The public sector, by contrast, used the direct question and first schools methods in almost equal proportions.

Difficulties in the monitoring procedure were relatively prevalent with over two thirds finding some difficulty in counting applicants - though the degree of reported difficulty in many cases was only slight.

The use of the residuary method and the coding of employees into SOC groups had similar degrees of difficulty for employers.

Least difficulty was encountered with counting appointees whilst coding schools caused problems for just under half.

Another potential area of difficulty was the requirement of having to disclose to employees, in writing, the determination of their community background. However, this only caused difficulties in a small number of cases.



CHAPTER 4

THE IMPACT UPON EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

The 1989 Fair Employment legislation has had an impact upon the employment practices of a sizable proportion of companies but by no means a majority.

In overall terms just over a quarter felt the exercise had been useful as opposed to a third who felt it had not, leaving a sizable proportion with no strong opinion either way.

Personnel practices, however, were felt to have improved in 40% of companies as a result of the legislation, with staff recruitment procedures also changed to a similar degree, especially among larger companies.

The main change apparent in staff recruitment appears to be the advertising of posts, especially in the private sector. Interviewing methods, updated filing, recruitment methods, new documentation and a move away from word of mouth recruitment were all areas which were changed to some degree in a proportion of companies.

Just under a third of companies had also introduced affirmative action measures with employers in the private sector much more active in this area than their public sector counterparts. Of those who had introduced affirmative action measures, just under half had introduced goals and timetables relating to these measures.


The Section 31 Review

Section 31 of the 1989 Fair Employment Act Review requires employers to undertake a review of employment composition and practices at least once very three years.

Just under half of all companies had already begun their review and many felt they required some help in undertaking it. The need for assistance was greatest in relation to the content and structure of the review and least for goals and timetables. In general, around two thirds of all companies felt they required some assistance with most aspects of the review. In the majority of cases the assistance needed was described as ' a little'.

Only in setting goals and timetables did public sector 'confidence' in handling the various components of the review approach that of the private sector with two thirds still requiring some assistance.

Almost three quarters of those who felt that they needed assistance with the review stated that they would seek help from the FEC. The private sector would be more likely than the public sector to seek help from private consultants while the converse would be true as regards seeking help from their own staff.



APPENDIX ONE :
SAMPLE STRATIFICATION


The stratification of the sample took account of:

SIZE
(NO.OF EMPLOYEES)
BELOW 50
50 - 99
100 PLUS

STANDARD INDUSTRIAL
CLASSIFICATION (SIC)
-
SIC 0Agriculture. Forestry and Fishing
SIC 1 Energy and Water Supply
SIC 2 Mineral and Chemicals
SIC 3 Engineering and Vehicles
SIC 4 Other Manufacturing
SIC 5 Construction
SIC 6 Distribution. Hotels and Catering
SIC 7 Transport and Communication
SIC 8 Banking, Finance and Insurance
SIC 9 Others
PUBLIC SECTOR



APPENDIX TWO :
RESPONSES BY INDUSTRIAL SECTOR AND COMPANY SIZE

UNIVERSE
NO.
ACHIEVED
SAMPLE NO.
SIZE26 - 49
828
148
50 - 99
504
105
100 PLUS
472
118



SIC CODESIC 0
3
1
SIC 1
2
1
SIC 2
93
14
SIC 3
143
31
SIC 4
377
88
SIC 5
162
33
SIC 6
396
71
SIC 7
46
6
SIC 8
156
31
SIC 9
329
63
PUBLIC SECTOR
97
32
TOTAL
1804
371


APPENDIX THREE :
WEIGHTS APPLIED TO RESPONDENTS



SIZE OF EMPLOYER
(NO. OF EMPLOYEES)
INDUSTRY
SIC CODE
<50
(1)
50-99
(2)
100+
(3)
0
2.00
1.00
1.00
1
2.00
1.00
1.00
2
5.22
11.50
7.66
3
5.62
4.00
3.77
4
5.17
4.41
3.51
5
4.53
6.00
4.67
6
7.15
4.92
4.32
7
10.50
3.67
14.00
8
6.20
4.36
4.60
9
5.40
5.10
4.90
PUBLIC SECTOR
4.33
2.75
2.73



APPENDIX FOUR :
QUESTIONNAIRE


MRNI LTD
46 ELMWOOD AVENUE
BELFAST BT9 6AZ
TEL (0232) 661037
Interviewer . . . . . . . . . . .
Date . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quest. No.
C1 - C4

FAIR EMPLOYMENT (NORTHERN IRELAND) ACT 1989
EMPLOYERS SURVEY



SECTION A - COMPANY DETAILS

1. Organisation Name ______________________ C5-C35
Address : Street _________________________ C36-C66
Postal Town ____________________________ C67-C96
County ________________________________ C97
Postcode ______________________________ C98-C128
Tel No. Code _____________ C129-135 NUMBER _______________ C136-141

2. Contact Name ____________ C142-168 Position ______________ C169-199



SECTION B - PREPARATION FOR STATUTORY MONITORING

3. In what year did you first conduct a monitoring exercise on the community background of employees?

C200
1985 or earlier
1
1988
4
1986
2
1989
5
1987
3
1990
6


4. In conducting the monitoring exercise in 1990 did you make use of the Fair Employment Code of Practice?

C201
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.6


5. Did you find the Code of Practice . . . . . . . .

C202
VERY USEFUL
1
QUITE USEFUL
2
NOT PARTICULARLY USEFUL
3
NOT USEFUL AT ALL
4


6. In connection with your first statutory monitoring return in 1990 did you seek any advice or information from the Fair Employment Commission?

C203
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.9


7. What type of advice or information did you request from the FEC?
________________________________________________________C204-205
________________________________________________________________


8. How helpful did you find the advice/information given by the FEC?

C206
VERY HELPFUL
1
QUITE HELPFUL
2
NOT PARTICULARLY HELPFUL
3
NOT HELPFUL AT ALL
4


9. During 1990 and 1991 have you had any contact with the FEC on matters other than registration and monitoring?

C207
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.12


10. What type of contact was this and for what purpose?
______________________________________________________ C208-209
_______________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________


11. How satisfactory did you find the performance of the FEC in regard to these matters?

C2 10
VERY SATISFACTORY
1
QUITE SATISFACTORY
2
NOT PARTICULARLY SATISFACTORY
3
NOT SATISFACTORY AT ALL
4


12. Did you apply for assistance under the Fair Employment Support Scheme?

C211
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.15


13. Did you find the Fair Employment Support Scheme

C212
VERY USEFUL
1
QUITE USEFUL
2
NOT PARTICULARLY USEFUL
3
NOT USEFUL AT ALL
4

IF USEFUL OR QUITE USEFUL CONTINUE OTHERWISE GO TO Q. 15


14. In which of the following respects did you find the scheme useful?

C213-217
PERSONNEL PROCEDURES
1
MONITORING
1
INFORMATION SYSTEMS
1
TRAINING IN USE OF TESTS
1
OTHER (PLEASE SPECIFY)
__________________________
1


15. Was the 1990 monitoring exercise an integral part of an overall equal opportunities policy in your company?

C218
YES
1
NO
2


16.In addition to sex and religion do you monitor other aspects of equal opportunity such as marital status or disability?

C219
YES
1
NO
2


17. In order to undertake the 1990 monitoring exercise and, more generally, comply with the new Fair Employment Legislation, did you appoint any additional staff?

C220
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.20


18. How many additional staff and of what type did you employ?
(PLEASE TICK APPROPRIATE BOX FOR TYPE OF STAFF AND RECORD NUMBER EMPLOYED)

NUMBER
TYPE EMPLOYED
NUMBER EMPLOYED
C221-224
C225-228
MONITORING OFFICERS
[ ….. ]
_____________________
COMPUTER STAFF
[ ….. ]
_____________________
ADMINISTRATION STAFF
[ ….. ]
_____________________
OTHER (SPECIFY)
__________________

[ ….. ]

_____________________


19. What is the annual cost of employing these additional staff members?
£ ________________________ C229-230


20. Did complying with the monitoring exercise involve any other additional costs to the company?

C23 1
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.22


21. What additional costs were involved and for what purpose?

PURPOSE OF COSTS
AMOUNT £
1. ________________________ C232-233
________________ C238-239
2. ________________________ C234-235
________________ C240-241
3. ________________________ C236-237
________________ C242-243



SECTION C - THE MONITORING EXERCISE

22.How many staff members were actually involved in conducting the monitoring exercise?
_______________________________________________________________________ C244-245


23. Did you adopt any structural organisational changes in order to carry out the monitoring exercise or as a result of it? (eg setting up a Fair Employment Unit)

C246
YES
1
NO
2


24. Was a computer used to store/analyse information from your monitoring exercise?

C247
YES
1
NO
2


25. In terms of importance, what type of priority would you say was given to the monitoring exercise?

C248
HIGH
1
MEDIUM
2
LOW
3


26. Did you take any specific steps to encourage your employees to co-operate in the monitoring exercise?

C249
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q. 28


27. What type of steps did you take?
__________________________________________________________ C250-251
__________________________________________________________________


28. Did you consult with trade union representatives before undertaking the monitoring exercise?

C252
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
CONTINUE
NO UNION MEMBERS
3
GO TO Q.30


29. How would you describe trade union reaction in your workplace to the introduction of the 1989 Fair Employment Legislation?
___________________________________________________________C253-254
___________________________________________________________________


30. Were there any occupational group/grades whose response to the monitoring exercise questionnaires seemed particularly low?

C2 55
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.32


31. Which groups/grades were these?
_________________________________________________________ C256-257
__________________________________________________________________


32. Were there any occupational groups/grades whose response to the monitoring exercise questionnaires seemed particularly high?

C258
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.34


33. Which groups/grades were these?
_________________________________________________________ C259-260
__________________________________________________________________



34. Which principal method of monitoring did you use?

C261
FIRST SCHOOLS LIST METHOD
(Primary school attended longest)
1
SECOND SCHOOLS LIST METHOD
(All primary and secondary schools attended)
2
DIRECT QUESTION
(Statement of religion)
3



SECTION D - DIFFICULTIES IN MONITORING

The next six questions relate to the degree of difficulty you found with certain aspects of the monitoring return.

Not all questions will apply to your company or organisation:
Q. 35 - only answer if you used one of the schools methods of monitoring.
Q's 37 & 38 - only answer if you employ more than 250 staff or if you are a public authority.

In such cases please circle the 'does not apply' response and answer the other questions which do apply to you.

Please indicate for each relevant question the degree of difficulty you encountered with this aspect of the procedure:

C2 62-267
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
NOT
DIFFICULT
ONLY
SLIGHTLY DIFFICULT
QUITE
DIFFICULT
VERY
DIFFICULT
DOES NOT APPLY
35.CODING SCHOOLS
1
2
3
4
5
36.USING THE RESIDUARY METHOD
1
2
3
4
5
37.COUNTING THE NUMBER OF APPLICANTS (AS OPPOSED TO APPLICATIONS)
1
2
3
4
5
38.COUNTING THE NUMBER OF APPOINTEES
1
2
3
4
5
39.CODING OF OCCUPATION INTO NINE MAJOR GROUPS
1
2
3
4
5
40.ANY OTHER ASPECT
(SPECIFY) ____________________________
1
2
3
4
5
* ANY OTHER COMMENTS REGARDING DIFFICULTIES IN MONITORING ____________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________C268-C269



41. Did the requirement of having to disclose to employees, in writing, the determination of their community background present difficulties?

C270
YES
1
NO
2



SECTION E - FURTHER ISSUES

42. Did you find the monitoring exercise . . . . . . . . . . . .

C2 71
VERY USEFUL
1
QUITE USEFUL
2
NO STRONG VIEWS
3
NOT PARTICULARLY USEFUL
4
NOT USEFUL AT ALL
5


43. Would you say that complying with the Fair Employment Legislation has generally improved your personal practices and procedures?

C272
YES
1
NO
2


44. Has complying with the Fair Employment Legislation brougnt about changes in the way you go about recruiting staff?

C273
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.46


45. Please specify any new practices which you have introduced and an approximation of any associated costs (eg advertising) on an annual basis.

CHANGES IN PRACTICE
COST PER ANNUM
1.______________________C274-275
________________ C278-279
2.______________________C276-277
________________ C280-281


46. As a result of the new Fair Employment Legislation have you introduced affirmative action measures?

C282
YES
1
CONTINUE
NO
2
GO TO Q.48


47. Have you introduced affirmative action goals and timetables?

C283
YES
1
NO
2


48. Have you already begun your review of employment composition and practices which you are required to conduct at least once every three years?

C284
YES
1
NO
2

Listed below are a number of areas associated with the review referred to at question 48. To what extent do you think you will need help on these points?


49.

Content and structure of the review

C285
NO HELP
1
A LITTLE HELP
2
QUITE A LOT OF HELP
3
A GREAT DEAL OF HELP
4


50. Working out catchment areas

C286
NO HELP
1
A LITTLE HELP
2
QUITE A LOT OF HELP
3
A GREAT DEAL OF HELP
4


51.The determination of fair participation

C287
NO HELP
1
A LITTLE HELP
2
QUITE A LOT OF HELP
3
A GREAT DEAL OF HELP
4


52. Affirmative action measures

C288
NO HELP
1
A LITTLE HELP
2
QUITE A LOT OF HELP
3
A GREAT DEAL OF HELP
4


53. Setting goals and timetables

C289
NO HELP
1
A LITTLE HELP
2
QUITE A LOT OF HELP
3
A GREAT DEAL OF HELP
4


54. If you have answered that you will need help to any of the above whom would you look to in order to provide such help?

C290-293
FAIR EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
1
PRIVATE CONSULTANTS
1
OWN STAFF
1
OTHER (SPECIFY)
__________________________________

1

That concludes the survey. Thank you very much for your help and co-operation.



THIS QUESTIONNAIRE IS THE PROPERTY OF MRNI LTD


OFFICE USE ONLY

A. COMPANY SIZE _________________________ C294-C295
B. SIC CODE ______________ C296-C297
C. REGION _______________________________ C298-C299


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