The Fair Treatment at Work Survey Report
In January 2008 the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, BERR (now Business, Innovation and Skills, BIS) commissioned Ralph Fevre, Theo Nichols and TNS-BMRB to undertake a major new social survey, the 2008 Fair Treatment at Work Survey (FTWS) collecting over 200 answers from 4,000 current or recent employees across Great Britain. For the first time a single survey source covers workers’ awareness of their rights and the support available to them, a comprehensive view of the problems experienced in the workplace and how such problems get resolved. BIS’s responsibilities for policy and research on employment relations are wide-ranging and continuously evolving and this new survey is designed to asses how well existing policies are working, what more needs to be done and to investigate the nature and extent of vulnerable working amongst British employees. The new survey combines two earlier surveys; the 2005 Employment Rights at Work Survey (ERWS) and the 2005 Fair Treatment at Work Survey (FTWS). In the case of the 2005 ERWS, this followed and improved upon the 2000 Awareness, Knowledge and Exercise of Individual Employment Rights Survey. These surveys were mainly concerned with awareness and knowledge of employment rights and sources of information and advice. They also included some questions on employees’ experience of problems at work and how these might be remedied. The 2005 FTWS was commissioned in response to the need, identified in The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit’s Ethnic Minorities in the Labour Market report (2003) for more research and monitoring of race discrimination in employment. The survey gathered information on employees’ perceptions of unfair treatment at work, both personally and of others at work. It covered all six strands of the equalities jurisdictions (sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief and age). The survey also asked employees about their experiences of bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace. The new survey covers all of the areas investigated in the three previous surveys and expands into issues around vulnerable workers.
In October 2010, the EHRC published their Triennial Review How fair is Britain? Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010. The chapter on employment in the Review made extensive use of this report. Its finding that 19 per cent of employees with disabilities experience unfair treatment at work compared to 13 per cent of those without disabilities provides one of the UK’s Equality Performance Indicators. It is the indicator used to monitor the Government’s Independent Living Strategy in England but it is also widely used by public bodies to measure improvements in the treatment people with disabilities receive. It also features very widely in the policy-responses of public sector employers to the public-sector equality duty. They also make considerable use of other aspects of the research reported in the Triennial Review, demonstrating the considerable reach of the research amongst public-sector employers, including government departments.