Work Quality in Northern Ireland Statistics

Date published: 27 February 2024

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

Work Quality statistics
Work Quality statistics

This analysis builds on four previous publications and compares the quality of work over four years for key cohorts; sex, age, deprivation quintile, and skill level, where commentary on the latest release is provided below.


This analysis builds on four previous publications and compares the quality of work across four years using eleven statistical indicators. The suite of work quality indicators include 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.

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

  • In 2022, three additional work quality questions were added to the Labour Force Survey, these questions relate to bullying and harassment, line manager support, and skill level. This brings the total number of work quality indicators to eleven. Of the other eight indicators, six experienced statistically significant increases from 2020, with the exception of job satisfaction and meaningful work, which had minimal increases.
  • Job security has remained consistently high across the time series, with nearly all employees in secure employment (97% in 2023). This trend held when examined by sex, age, skill level, and deprivation quintile. For the most recent period, 2023, the hardest indicator to achieve was the neither under nor over skilled indicator, with approximately half of NI employees reporting that they had the correct level of skills required for their current duties. This was followed by flexible working with just over half of employees in flexible work, similar to previous years.
  • At around 60% in 2023, career progression and involvement in decision making indicators were generally less achievable for employees, however opportunities for career progression, involvement in decision making and flexible work have seen the largest increases over the last four years.

Notable differences emerged when analysing key cohorts

  • When comparing by sex, the largest difference between male and female employees related to flexible working, with a greater proportion of females in flexible work (61%). Despite a growth of 10 percentage points in this indicator for males since 2020 to 47%, a substantial 15 percentage points (pps) difference remained in 2023.
  • When factoring in age, employees aged 18 to 39 reported better opportunities for career development (65%) than employees aged 40 and over (54%), while a larger proportion of those aged 40 and over were earning at least the Real Living Wage (RLW) (89%) than employees aged 18 to 39 (79%).
  • Those employees living in the least deprived areas were more likely to be earning at least the Real Living Wage (91%), experience career progression (65%), or be offered flexible working (61%) than those in the most deprived areas (76%, 55% and 50% respectively).
  • The largest differences were recorded between those in high skilled and low skilled jobs. While almost all employees in high skilled jobs earned at least the Real Living Wage (95%), this figure dropped to 71% for those in low skilled jobs. Although this is a significant difference, the gap has notably narrowed since 2020. Similarly, there was less chance of career progression or involvement in decision making for those in low skilled jobs (50% and 52% respectively) compared to those in high skilled jobs (68% and 63% respectively).

Notes to editors: 

1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the Work Quality in Northern Ireland – July 2022 to June 2023 page of the NISRA website.

2. A work quality page, which also includes links to three previous publications and a live work plan, is available on the NISRA website.

3. This release provides statistics for eleven work quality indicators: earnings, secure employment, neither under/over employed, job satisfaction, meaningful work, career progression, employee involvement in decision-making, flexible working, line manager support, skill level, and bullying and harassment. The earnings indicator is sourced from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), and the remaining ten are sourced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

4. Analysis is based on employees aged 18 or over between ‘July 2019 and June 2020’ to ‘July 2022 to June 2023’ in line with data available from ASHE.

5. The definitions for the eleven work quality indicators can be found in the definitions section within the publication.

6. The survey reference date (19th April 2023) was outside the time period for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant; therefore 2023 earnings were not affected by furlough. Over the pandemic period, earnings estimates were affected by changes in the composition of the workforce and the impact of the CJRS, making interpretation difficult. In particular, the 2020 and 2021 data are subject to more uncertainty and should be treated with caution.

7. The Real Living Wage (RLW) is announced in November each year and must be implemented by the following May. As such it is likely that the previous year’s living wage was still in place when the survey was completed (i.e. the 2023 ASHE data relates to the pay period including April 2023, at which time the 2023/2024 Real Living Wage of £12.00 may not have been applied). The previous year’s RLW is therefore used to calculate the percentage earning at least the RLW.

8. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households and businesses for taking part in the Labour Force Survey and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

9. The Work Quality in Northern Ireland report will be of interest to policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.

10. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

12. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

13. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to: Responsible statistician: Holly McAteer, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), or Tel: 028 9025 5176.

Share this page

Back to top