Fair employment monitoring: An employer necessity

Ceire Watson

February 07 2020

Do you monitor the makeup of your workforce and applicants? Did you know that, under fair employment legislation, it’s a legal requirement?

And that goes for all registered employers in Northern Ireland who have more than 11 employees who each work more than 16 hours per week.

Governed by the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998 and the Fair Employment (Monitoring) Regulations (NI) 1999 (as amended) (the Monitoring Regulations), not doing so is a costly affair.

Purpose of monitoring

The purpose of monitoring is to keep a record of your workforce community background and sex. In terms of community background, this is in relation to whether an individual is from a Protestant or Roman Catholic community.  

Who should you monitor?

As an employer, you’re required to provide information on the following:

  • Employees
  • Applicants
  • Appointees
  • Apprentices

If you have more than 250 employees, you are also required to monitor promotees and leavers.


Once your monitoring questionnaire has been issued and returned, make a determination of the community background. If community could not be determined, you can use the residuary* method.

Disclose the determination of the individual. Then, input the information into a database. You must then retain all monitoring information for the required period.

*Residuary is a fall-back method when the direct question does not allow you to make a determination of the employee's/applicant's community background.


The monitoring form should be completed every year. Each employer will have their own registration date and will receive a notification from the Equality Commission four months prior to the deadline of completion.


The Equality Commission will support employers in completing the annual monitoring return form. However, failure to submit or complete it correctly is a criminal offence. This can result in a minimum penalty of £5,000, as well as sanctions such as loss of Government grants and exclusion from public contracts.

Need our help?

If you would like further complementary advice on fair employment monitoring from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 0800 917 0771 or request a callback here.

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