Skip to main content
In order to provide complete functionality, this web site needs your explicit consent to store browser cookies. If you don't allow cookies, you may not be able to use certain features of the web site including but not limited to: log in, buy products, see personalized content, switch between site cultures. It is recommended that you allow all cookies.
Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.


What you need to know

How we can help




All registered employers must monitor the composition of their workforce. This means keeping a record of your staff’s community background and sex.

What does Community Background mean?

This is whether an individual is from the Protestant community or the Roman Catholic community in Northern Ireland, or neither.

Although not a legal requirement, we also recommend monitoring by age, disability, race, marital status, civil partnership status, sexual orientation, and those with and without dependents. Monitoring these additional grounds is  good practice and a good way of getting a clear picture of what is happening in your organisation. It can identify patterns that you might not otherwise notice, and ensure that unintentional discrimination is not taking place.


How should this information be gathered?

The best method for recording this information is to use an equal opportunities monitoring form questionnaire that directly asks individuals to specify which areas apply to them.

Download the following:


These forms will enable you to comply with your duties under Fair Employment legislation.

What should be monitored?

As a registered employer you are required to monitor your:

  • employees
  • job applicants
  • appointees
  • apprentices.


If you have more than 250 employees you are also required to monitor:

  • promotees
  • leavers.


Although private, voluntary and community sector employers who employ fewer than 250 employees are not obliged by the Fair Employment legislation to monitor their promotees and leavers, we recommend that all employers should monitor these categories anyway.


It is good practice for employers to monitor and review all their employment practices, including those that have an impact on employees’ opportunities for promotion, and those which cause or contribute to the termination of employees’ contracts of employment. Consequently, it is also good practice to monitor other activities too, such as employees who apply for and obtain training opportunities; employees who are subjected to disciplinary procedures; employees who lodge grievances or complaints.


What should I do next?

This depends on the information that you have collected. There is one thing that you must do and another that you might do. These are:

  • Information on community background and sex
If you are a registered employer, you must use the information that you collected on these two categories to prepare your annual monitoring return to the Equality Commission.
  • Information on any other equality category (like racial group, disability, sexual orientation)
You do not have to submit an annual report to the Equality Commission about this information, but as you collected it for the purposes of promoting equal opportunities then you must use it for that purpose. Further information about how you can do that can be found in the part of website that discusses integrated equality plans.

Does this comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

Are you concerned the processing of monitoring information may be a breach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force on 25 May 2018?

Processing monitoring information is done to comply with the Fair Employment legislation1 and the consent of individual applicants or employees is not required. Employers are obliged to keep written information relating to monitoring for a period of 3-years after the application is made or 3-years after an employee leaves employment, whichever is longer.

The Commission’s Step by Step Guide sets out the information that registered employers are required to process including a copy of the monitoring questionnaire. A free copy of the Step by Step Guide is available online (pdf) or email for a hard copy publication.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) can provide further information on the GDPR and has an online checklist for employers


1 Article 6 (1) (c) of GDPR states that that in relation to the processing of personal data consent is not required from an individual where the processing is in order to comply with a legal obligation.

Article 52 of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 requires registered employers to prepare for each year and serve on the Commission a monitoring return which contains such information about the employees of the employer and those applying for employment in the concern as may be prescribed in the Regulations.

The Fair Employment (Monitoring) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 set out in Schedule 1 the prescribed information. Regulation 17 obliges an employer to keep written information relating to monitoring for a period of 3 years after an employee leaves employment. Regulation 18 relates to applicant monitoring information and obliges the employer to retain that information for a period of 3 years after the application is made

If you require any advice or assistance in completing your annual monitoring return contact us:


Employer registration
< Registration, monitoring & review



We believe that helping you promote and encourage good equal opportunities practice is as important as enforcing the equality law. Every year, the Commission helps hundreds of businesses and organisations comply with equality laws.

We recognise that employers' needs differ across sectors and businesses – so we tailor our services to meet employers’ varying needs.

We run workshops each month on how to monitor staff and can meet with you individually if this more helpful.

If you would like to attend please phone 028 90 500600 or email Workshops are free of charge.


We provide high quality training seminars and information sessions to employers on a wide range of equality issues.

These events provide advice and guidance on employers’ duties under current equality laws and on introducing best practice. We recommend that employers carefully consider their needs and choose the seminars and sessions which are of most benefit to them.


    Training sessions include:

   •  Introduction to understanding equality
   •  Equality training for line managers
   •  Recruiting fairly
   •  Harassment at work
   •  Pregnancy, maternity and flexible working
   •  Mental ill-health at work
   •  Promoting disability in the workplace 
   •  Reasonable steps defence
   •  How to complete an Article 55 Review
   •  Monitoring form workshops







We are flexible in terms of themes covered and can tailor courses to suit employers’ business needs. Further details are available on our employer training page or email - Tel: 02890 500600


In-house training

On occasion, the Commission can provide in-house training for organisations.  Where the Commission agrees to such a request, we will normally deliver one session to key staff within the organisation and assist them to disseminate the training internally. For in-house training requests email or Tel: 028 90 500600.

Speaking engagments

If you are organising an equality related event, Commission staff can share their expertise to highlight relevant issues in equality law that relate to your business priorities. For further information, contact Paul Oakes  Tel: 028 90 500600.

Employer news eZine

To receive updates on our training seminars, events and employer equality networks sign up to receive our Employer & Service Providers' Newsletter using the subscribe button at the bottom of the page.


This is a selection of publications that are most relevant to monitoring:     

Publications for Recruitment Companies

Public Authorities:


Additional information is available on our registration and monitoring webpage

Print All