Sun, 02 Apr 2023

Work quality in Northern Ireland statistics

Northern Ireland Executive
28 Feb 2023, 22 GMT+10

The latest Work Quality statistical publication was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Work quality statistics

This analysis builds on three previous publications and compares the quality of work over three years, where commentary on the latest release is provided below.

Introduction

This analysis builds on three previous publications and compares the quality of work across three years using eight statistical indicators. The suite of work quality indicators includes subjective and objective measures, relates to employees aged 18 and over and has been derived from the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

Five of the eight work quality indicators have had significant increases since 2020

A comparison of the eight work quality indicators shows that secure employment, being neither under nor over employed, performing meaningful work, earning above the Real Living Wage and job satisfaction were the most achievable for employees in NI between 2020 and 2022, with at least four in five employees working in jobs that met these criteria in 2022. In contrast involvement in decision making, career progression and flexible working have been the hardest work quality indicators to achieve between 2020 and 2022, with less than 60% of employees meeting the criteria for each in 2022.

There was little variation in the proportion of employees in NI with secure employment, meaningful work or job satisfaction across the years. In contrast, the proportion of employees in NI earning above the Real Living Wage has increased by the largest margin since 2020 (11pps) and the proportion of employees that were neither under nor over employed in 2022, whilst similar to 2021, has significantly increased since 2020 (3pps).   

The group of indicators with the lowest proportions have also seen significant improvement between 2020 and 2022, with the proportion of employees reporting involvement in decision making, career progression and flexible working increasing by around six percentage points.

Notable differences emerged when analysing by age and sex

For six of the eight work quality indicators the difference between employees aged 18 to 39 and those aged 40 and over meeting the relevant criteria was small in 2022 (less than five percentage points). While there was a difference of 10 percentage points in favour of employees aged 40 and over when considering the proportion of employees earning above the Real Living Wage in 2022, this gap has decreased by five percentage points since 2020.

Conversely, career progression has been consistently higher for employees aged 18 to 39 than those aged 40 and over with a difference of 12 percentage points in 2022.

Although there is little difference in the majority of indicators, the flexible work quality indicator highlights large differences between males and females. In 2022, for five of the eight indicators the difference in the proportion of males and females meeting the relevant criteria was small (less than four percentage points), whilst there was a difference of 18 percentage points in favour of females when flexibility was considered. This difference was predominately due to the higher proportion of females in part time employment (and not underemployed) than males, one component of the flexibility indicator. Flexible work has been consistently higher for females since 2020.

Meaningful work has also been consistently higher for female employees than for male employees with the difference increasing from two percentage points in 2020 to eight percentage points in 2022. Conversely, career progression has been consistently higher for male employees than female employees, with a difference of seven percentage points in 2022.

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