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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Fair Employment Code of Practice

What you need to know

How we can help


What is the Fair Employment Code of Practice?

This sets out recommendations and good practice for employers regarding their employment duties and responsibilities in Northern Ireland.


As an employer you should take into consideration the Code when carrying out your Article 55 Review, the primary purpose of which is to enable the employer to determine whether they are providing, or are likely to continue to provide, fair participation in employment to members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities.

The Code is of central importance in the promotion of fair employment and we recommend that you use it when you are completing your review. Download the Fair Employment Code of Practice (PDF, 192Kb)

What does it say employers should do?

As an employer you are responsible for providing equality of opportunity for all job applicants and employees.


  • You should have a written policy on equality of opportunity in employment and put it into effective and visible practice.
  • Your policy and practice must be firmly based on the principle of selection according to merit and will be considerably strengthened if they are agreed between you and your trade unions, your employee representatives or your workforce.
  • These should be clearly stated within the organisation, noted on relevant publications (eg. company reports), and particularly in job advertisements. No one should be in any doubt about your policy and practice.
  • For a comprehensive list of employer responsibilities, download the full publication above.


The Code cannot cover all of the circumstances an employer could encounter in promoting equality of opportunity.  Employers should therefore contact the Commission when there is uncertainty about their duties or the actions they are taking in relation to the Code.


What are the benefits to my business/organisation?

Equality of opportunity in employment makes good business sense.  It broadens the recruitment base and widens the choice of personnel. It also enhances the probity of a company’s personnel practices and improves corporate image.


Even if you regard your place of work as an entirely fair employer, it is necessary to check that you are carrying out the steps mentioned in this Fair Employment Code of Practice. Discrimination and inequality of opportunity can occur in the absence of regular scrutiny and the adoption of sound practices.


Failure to observe any of the provisions featured in the code of practice would not, of itself, constitute discrimination. However, the code is given significant status under the law. We recommend, therefore, that you pay close regard to it as a Fair Employment Tribunal must take into account provisions in the Code which is relevant to any question arising in proceedings before it.


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 employer needs differ across sectors and businesses – so we tailor our services to meet employers’ varying needs.


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.


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