||Workplace Employment Relations Survey: 1998-2011: Secure Access
||Workplace Industrial Relations Survey; WERS98; WERS 2004; WERS5; WERS Panel Survey, 1998-2004; WERS; WIRS; WERS 2011; WERS6
|| Workplace Employment Relations Survey [Workplace Employment Relations Survey: 1998-: Secure Access]
|| Office for National Statistics
|| Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
National Institute of Economic and Social Research
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Policy Studies Institute
Social and Community Planning Research
National Centre for Social Research
Department of Trade and Industry
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Economic and Social Research Council
Policy Studies Institute
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
UK Commission for Employment and Skills
National Institute of Economic and Social Research
For the 1998 study, Mark Cully, Stephen Woodland and Andrew O'Reilly of the Department of Trade and Industry, and Gill Dix of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
The Policy Studies Institute contributed to the funding of the 2004 study with a grant from the Nuffield Foundation.
The Steering Committee for the 2004 study was drawn from representatives of the sponsoring bodies. The members of the Steering Committee are as follows: Grant Fitzner (succeeding Mark Beatson) and Bernard Carter (Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)); Andrew Wareing (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)); Paul Rouse (succeeding David Guy) and Professor Keith Whitfield (Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)); and Malcolm Rigg (succeeding Professor Jim Skea) of the Policy Studies Institute (PSI). John McQueeney, Head of Research in the Employment Markets Analysis and Research (EMAR) section of the DTI, also attended a number of Steering Committee meetings and provided support to the DTI Research Team throughout the course of the study. A number of people assisted in the development of specific question areas, including: six specialist teams of academic experts co-ordinated by Professor Whitfield; academic researchers and lawyers who advised on changing aspects of employment relations legislation; and policy officials within the DTI. The sponsors and research team would like to thank the managers, employees and employee representatives who gave freely of their time to participate in this study. Without their co-operation, the study would not be possible.
The project was overseen by the 2011 WERS Steering Committee which was made up of the sponsoring organisations. Over the life of the project the members included:
Primary research and analysis was carried out by the WERS Research Team. Members included: Mark McConaghy (initial Project Leader), Brigid van Wanrooy (Project Leader), Helen Bewley, Alex Bryson, John Forth, Stephanie Freeth, Hulya Hooker, Lucy Stokes and Prof. Stephen Wood.
- Department of Business Innovation and Skills - Vivien Brighton, Bernard Carter, Sumit Rahman, Kelly Taylor, Bill Wells (Chair) and Stella Yarrow
- Economic and Social Research Council – Scott Court, Prof Peter Elias, Claire Feary, Joanna Lake and Prof Stephen Wood
- UK Commission for Employment and Skills - Richard Garrett and Aiofe Ni Launaigh
- Health and Safety Executive - Beverly Bishop, Anthony Burke and Alison Higgins
- Acas - Gill Dix and Fiona Neathey
- National Institute of Economic and Social Research - Alex Bryson and John Forth
The NatCen research team consisted of: Martin Wood, Tracy Anderson, Kavita Deepchand, Emma Drever, Nick Gilby, Zoe Lancaster, Yvette Prestage, and Sarah Tipping.
Susan Purdon and Prof Chris Skinners provided advice on weighting the data.
At the initial stages of the survey development, a consultation led by Prof. Stephen Wood was conducted with WERS users including academics and policy makers and practitioners. Many people took the time to meet with the WERS research team or make a submission about the content of the 2011 WERS.
Finally, the WERS6 team would like to thank the managers, employees and worker representatives who voluntarily gave up their time to participate in the study.
Industrial relations - Employment and labour
|The Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) is a national survey of the state of employment relations and working life inside British workplaces. The 1998, 2004 and 2011 surveys (WERS98, WERS 2004, WERS 2011) are the fourth, fifth and sixth 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).
The 2011 WERS sample consisted of a panel sample containing all the workplaces that had taken part in the 2004 WERS and were still in existence in 2011, and a stratified random sample of establishments drawn from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) in August 2010 (the fresh cross-section sample). The key design innovation of the 2011 WERS was the integration of the two elements so that workplaces in the panel sample were eligible for all four components of WERS 2011. Weights were devised to enable the panel sample to be combined with the fresh sample to form a combined cross-sectionally representative sample. The WERS 2011 has four components: a Survey of Managers comprising the Employee Profile Questionnaire (EPQ) and the Management Questionnaire (MQ); a Survey of Worker Representatives (WRQ); a Survey of Employees (SEQ); and a Financial Performance Questionnaire (FPQ) which detailed the financial performance of trading sector establishments in the 12 months before the survey.
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 study also includes all the WERS 2011 data
The Secure Access version includes additional variables not included in the EUL versions (see SNs 5294, 3955 and 7226). 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, 2) postcodes, and 3) in 2011 the Financial Performance Questionnaire data are available along with some other more detailed variables.
Geographical references: postcodes
The postcodes available in the 1998 and 2004 data are pseudo-anonymised postcodes. The real postcodes were not available for these years 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. The postcodes available in the 2011 data are real postcodes.
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.
Additional data in 2011
The 2011 data includes an additional dataset, the Financial Performance Questionnaire, which details the financial performance of trading sector establishments in the 12 months before the survey. There are also region identifiers and the country in which the workplace is located can be identified. In addition industry classification is coded to below the section-level of the Standard Industrial Classification.
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. The EUL version of the WERS 2011 is held under SN 7226. 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 webpage.
Further information about the survey is available from the WERS 2004 Information and Advice Service (WIAS) website and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills' Workplace Employee Relations Survey webpages.
For the fourth edition (September 2014), 25 Stata syntax files (.do files) and accompanying documentation for WERS 2011 were deposited. The syntax was used by the WERS team to create derived variables and set up the data file used in the primary analysis, and to run the tables cited in the first findings report.
Survey questions are similar but vary somewhat between years. The Cross-Section Survey of Managers across the various years has included questions on workplace characteristics, recruitment and training, consultation and communication, employee representation, pay determination and payment systems, grievance and discipline, collective disputes and procedures, equal opportunities, work-life balance, health and safety, workforce flexibility, establishment performance, workplace change, experience of the recession, 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.
1998-01-01T00:00:00Z - 2011-01-01T00:00:00Z
Government Office Regions
Postcode (Unit) [anonymised]
Standard Statistical Regions
Travel to Work Areas
WERS98 cross-section survey: all establishments in Britain with ten or more employees, except for those in the following Standard Industrial Classification 1992 (SIC92) divisions: A (Agriculture, hunting and forestry); B (Fishing); C (Mining and quarrying); P (Private households with employed persons); and, Q (Extra-territorial organisations).
WERS 2004 cross-section survey: all establishments in Britain with five or more employees and operating in Sections D-O of SIC2003. The panel element was conducted with managers from establishments that had taken part in the WERS98 cross-section management survey.
WERS 2011: Workplaces in Great Britain with five or more employees, excluding workplaces in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining and quarrying, 2011.
Repeated cross-sectional study
with panel element
One-stage stratified or systematic random sample; Multi-stage stratified random sample
Number of units:
WERS98: Survey of Employee Representatives: 918 cases. Survey of Managers: 2,191 cases. Survey of Employees: 28,240 cases.
WERS 2004: Survey of Employee Representatives: 984 cases. Survey of Managers: 2,295 cases. Survey of Employees: 22,451 cases. Financial Performance Questionnaire: 1,070 cases. Panel survey: panel sample (1,479) + screening sample (712) = total 2,191 cases.
WERS 2011: Survey of Managers: 2,680 cases. Survey of Workers Representatives: 1,002 cases. Survey of Employees: 21,981 cases. Financial Performance Questionnaire: 545 cases.
Method of data collection:
Face-to-face interview; Telephone interview; Self-completion
Managers and employee representatives were interviewed face-to-face. Employees were surveyed using a self-completion form. The screening questionnaire for the panel survey was conducted by telephone.
Weighting used. See documentation for details.
By principal investigator(s):
Details of publications and technical reports may be found on the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) Workplace Employee Relations Surveys web page, and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (formerly BERR) WERS 2004 web pages, and the WERS 2004 Information and Advice Service (WIAS) web site.
Publications specific to WERS Time-Series data:
Millward, N., Forth, J. and Bryson, A. (1999) 'Changes in employment relations, 1990-1998', in M. Cully et al. Britain at work: as depicted by the 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey, London: Routledge.
Millward, N., Forth, J. and Bryson, A. (2000) All change at work? British employment relations 1980-1998, as portrayed by the Workplace Industrial Relations Survey series, London: Routledge.
Resulting from secondary analysis:
Knight, K.G. and Latreille, P.L. (2000) 'Discipline, dismissals and complaints to employment tribunals', Journal of Industrial Relations, 0007-1080, December, pp.533-555.
Sutherland, J. (2003) 'The experience of work: is working for an overseas-owned multinational so different?', Employee Relations, 25(2), pp.149-167.
Sutherland, J. (2004) 'The prevalence of 'Japanese' management polices and practices in manufacturing workplaces in the UK', Asian Business and Management, 3, pp.39-56.
Sutherland, J. (2004) 'The determinants of training: evidence from the 1998 Workplace and Employee Relations Survey', Economic Issues, 9(1), pp.23-37.
Sutherland, J. (2004) 'The prevalence of 'Japanese' management policies and practices in manufacturing workplaces in Britain', Asian Business and Management, 3, pp.39-56.
Urwin, P., Michielsens, E. and Waters, J. (2006), 'The contribution of employee relations practice to high performance workplaces: case studies on work-life balance and diversity practice', CIPD Professional Standards Conference, Keele University, June 2006; also presented at BUIRA Conference 2006.
Urwin, P. and Buscha, F. (2007), 'Changing gender and ethnic diversity in the UK workplace: what can we learn from the 2004 WERS?', WERS 2004 User Group Meeting, March 2007.
Rose, M. (2007) 'Why so fed up and footloose in IT? Spelling out the associations between occupation and overall job satisfaction shown by WERS 2004', Industrial Relations Journal, 38(4), pp.356-384.
Rose, M. (2007) 'Extending coverage of job satisfaction in the Workplace Employment Relations Survey 2004 Employee Survey', in K. Whitfield and K. Huxley (eds.) Substantive and methodological innovations in WERS 5: official guide, London/Swindon: DTI, PSI, NIESR and ESRC.
Rose, M. (2007) 'Qualifications and work attitudes: recent findings for the UK', in M. Chaponnière et al. (eds.) Bildung und Beschäftigung, Zurich: Rüegger Verlag; ISBN 978-3-7253-0809-5.
Rose, M. (2007) 'Compétences réquises et compétences offertes', in Sociologie empirique, sociologie critique: autour de Claude Durand, Toulouse: Octarès Éditions, EAN 9782915346534, ISSN 1957-9675.
Rose, M. (2007) 'Extending coverage of job satisfaction in the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations survey', paper presented at the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, 23 March 2007.
Rose, M. and Brynin, M. (2007) 'Occupational flexibility: the career trajectories of it workers', paper presented at the BHPS Users Conference, University of Essex, 6 July, 2007, and at the Fifth WES International Conference, University of Aberdeen, 2007.
Siebert, W.S., Heywood, J. and Wei, X. (2007) 'The implicit costs of family friendly work practices', Oxford Economic Papers, 59(20), pp.275-300. (Uses WERS98)
Forth, J., Bewley, H. and Bryson, A. (2006) Small and medium-sized enterprises: findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, London: Department of Trade and Industry.
Kersley, B. et al. (2006) Inside the workplace: findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, London: Routledge.
Robert A. Hart, Yue Ma (2008) Wage-Hours Contracts, Overtime Working and Premium Pay, IZA Discussion Paper No. 3797, Bonn,Germany .