The Equality Commission conducted a formal investigation into the employment experiences of pregnant women and mothers, on maternity leave and on their return to work.
We explored whether pregnant women and mothers receive equal treatment in employment and identified both barriers to equality of opportunity and employment practices that women have found helpful and supportive.
Almost 1,000 women across Northern Ireland responded to an online survey sharing their experiences through focus group discussions and interviews. Employers were also given the opportunity to tell us about their experiences, concerns and good practices.
The findings were launched at Titanic, Belfast, on 29 November 2016 – read the press release
Download the investigation's findings:
Following the investigation the Commission produced new guidance for employers on pregnancy and maternity in the workplace:
If you would like to know more about the investigation please contact Rosalynd Harkness, email: Rharkness@equalityni.org, Tel: 028 90500574
The Commission’s formal investigation into the ‘Role of the Recruitment Sector in the Employment of Migrant Workers’ in 2010 found evidence of exploitation of migrant workers in Northern Ireland and revealed that despite a considerable body of legislation governing the sector, not all recruitment agencies worked within its terms and barriers to equality of opportunity existed for those who used their services.
For further information download:
We commissioned an expert paper on the type, extent and delivery of childcare provision necessary to maximise the economic participation of women within Northern Ireland. It makes the case for improvements in childcare that would allow women a more equal opportunity to work.
Download: Childcare - Maximising the economic participation of women:
The Commission can conduct a formal investigation
under the provisions of most of the anti-discrimination legislation, currently excluding the sexual orientation employment legislation and age legislation, which only applies to employment and training.
In all cases we have the power to obtain information, make recommendations, issue reports, issue non-discrimination notices and use legally binding agreements or directions.
Formal investigations may be based on a general principle of achieving equality of opportunity under one of the discriminatory grounds, such as race, religion, sex, etc. If they are based on a belief that discrimination has occurred, they are confined to the investigation of a named person or persons.
Before undertaking an investigation we will consider the importance of the issue to equality and in the context of the strategic value of the investigation in relation to its current business objectives.
Section 75 is that part of the Northern Act 1998 which applies to public authorities and imposes on them a statutory requirement to comply with their own equality schemes. In the case where someone complains that a public authority has breached its scheme, the Commission has the power to investigate the breach.
A ‘Paragraph 10’ investigation is carried out when the Commission receives such a complaint. The Commission must either investigate the complaint or give reasons for not investigating.
A ‘Paragraph 11’ investigation can be generated either from the Commission’s own knowledge or from information received from third parties(that is, someone not from the Commission or the public body involved).
The Commission’s Statutory Duty Investigations Committee undertakes investigations under both Paragraph 10 and Paragraph 11.
We can only investigate situations where the public authority may have failed to comply with its approved Equality Scheme and not, that it has failed to promote equality or good relations on a more general level -although these may be relevant considerations in an investigation.
Examples of employment related investigations:
- Mrs Lesley Steer & Queen’s University, Belfast (2011, Word doc, 56kb, 6 pages) - Final Report of Commission Investigation Under Paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998
- John Allen and Fire Authority for Northern Ireland (2004, Word doc, 31kb, 2 pages) - Final Report of Commission Investigation under Paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 of the N. Ireland Act 1998
- James Beattie and Fire Authority for Northern Ireland (2004, Word doc, 32kb, 2 pages) - Final Report of Commission Investigation under Paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 of the N. Ireland Act 1998
- Don Leeson and Department of Finance & Personnel (2004, 39kb, 3 pages) - Final Report of Commission Investigation under Paragraph 10 of Schedule 9 of the N. Ireland Act 1998