|The Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) is a national survey of the state of employment relations and working life inside British workplaces. The 1998 and 2004 surveys (WERS98 and WERS 2004) are the fourth and fifth in the series, respectively, earlier surveys having been carried out in 1980, 1984 and 1990. Prior to 1998, the series was known as the Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (WIRS), the name being changed in order to better reflect the content of the current survey. The UK Data Archive hold the WIRS/WERS series from 1980 onwards under GN 33176.
The purpose of each survey in the WERS series has been to provide large-scale, statistically reliable evidence about a broad range of industrial relations and employment practices across almost every sector of the economy in Great Britain. This evidence is collected with several objectives in mind. It aims to provide a mapping of employment relations practices in workplaces across Great Britain, monitor changes in those practices over time, inform policy development and permit an informed assessment of the effects of public policy, and bring about a greater understanding of employment relations as well as of the labour market.
To that end, the cross-section element of WERS98 and WERS 2004 collected information from managers with responsibility for employment relations or personnel matters; trade union or employee representatives; and employees themselves. Thus, the surveys included the Cross-Section Survey of Managers (MQ), the Cross-Section Survey of Employee Representatives (ERQ), and the Cross-Section Survey of Employees (SEQ). The cross-section surveys in 2004 also included a Financial Performance Questionnaire (FPQ), which examined financial performance of the establishment over the 12 months previous to the survey. (Access to the FPQ data, alongside region identifiers and industry codes for the MQ and panel data, was initially restricted until April 2007, when they were deposited as part of the second edition of End User Licence (EUL) SN 5294.) The panel element of WERS 2004 includes the Screening Questionnaire and the Survey of Managers (comprising the Basic Workforce Data Sheet and the Management Interview).
Secure Access Dataset:
The Secure Access version of the study includes both the cross-section and panel surveys conducted for WERS98 and WERS 2004. The panel element for 2004 forms Wave 2 of the 1998-2004 panel survey. Wave 1 comprised the cross-sectional managers' survey conducted for WERS98.
The Secure Access version includes additional variables not included in the EUL versions (see SN 5294 and 3955). Extra variables that can be found in the Secure Access versions but not in the EUL versions relate to 1) Inter-Departmental Business Register reference numbers for businesses who have consented to the linking of WERS data to other data sources, and 2) anonymised postcodes.
Geographical references: postcodes
The postcodes available in these data are pseudo-anonymised postcodes. The real postcodes are not available due to the potential risk of identification of the observations. However, these replacement postcodes retain the inherent nested characteristics of real postcodes, and will allow researchers to aggregate observations to other geographic units, e.g. wards, super output areas, etc. In the dataset, the variables of the replacement postcodes are 'new_xPC' (1998) and 'new_yPC' (2004). Users who specifically require postcodes to undertake their analyses are advised to read the ONS document Geographical references in the Virtual Microdata Laboratory and Secure Data Service before applying for access to the data.
Linking to other business studies
These data contain Inter-Departmental Business Register reference numbers. These are anonymous but unique reference numbers assigned to business organisations. Their inclusion allows researchers to combine different business survey sources together. Researchers may consider applying for other business data to assist their research.
Related UK Data Archive studies:
The EUL version of the WERS Cross-Section Survey, 2004 and Panel Survey, 1998-2004; Wave 2 study is held under SN 5294. The EUL version of the WERS Cross-Section Survey 1998 is held under SN 3955. Further details and links to these and other WERS studies available under a standard EUL can be found on the Workplace Employee Relations Survey list of datasets web page.
Further information about the survey is available from the WERS98 Data Dissemination Service and the WERS 2004 Information and Advice Service (WIAS) websites, and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills' 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey and Workplace Employment Relations Survey web pages.
The Cross-Section Survey of Managers contains questions on recruitment and training, consultation and communication, employee representation, pay determination and payment systems, grievance and discipline, equal opportunities, work-life balance, health and safety, flexibility, establishment performance, change, and attitudes to work.
The Cross-Section Survey of Employee Representatives contains questions on structure of representation at the workplace, time spent on representative duties, means of communication with employees, incidence of negotiation and consultation over pay and other matters, involvement in redundancies, discipline and grievance matters, incidence of collective disputes and industrial action, relations with managers, and union recruitment.
The Cross-Section Survey of Employees contains questions on working hours, job influence, job satisfaction, working arrangements, training and skills, information and consultation, employee representation, and pay.
The questionnaire used in Wave 2 of the 1998-2004 panel survey is based on the WERS98 cross-section management questionnaire, but is much shorter and collects less detailed information about particular practices. It contains around one third of the questions that were present in the WERS98 questionnaire. The topics covered in Wave 2 include recruitment and training, consultation and communication, employee representation, pay determination and payment systems, equal opportunities, work-life balance, health and safety, flexibility and establishment performance.