Workplace Employee Relations Survey, 1980-1998

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1956 WERS
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Electronic data of approximately 30 MBs per dataset.
      Most datasets are available in SPSS (either as portable files or SPSS setup files) and can be converted to other formats such as STATA, ASCII tab-delimited and SAS. The 1998 cross-section data consists of 3 separate data files (management, worker representatives and employees). The cross-section datasets for other years and the panel and time-series datasets usually consist of just one data file. A couple of the earlier datasets, including the WIRS Panel Study 1980-1984 are only available in ASCII format without setup files.Documentation is primarily supplied in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Scope and Content

The Workplace Employee Relations Surveys are held under the UK Data Archive generic study number 33176 and data are available in cross-section, panel and time-series datasets.

The 1980, 1984 and 1990 surveys were conducted among a cross-section of establishments in Great Britain with 25 or more employees. The scope of the fourth (1998) survey was widened to include establishments with 10 or more employees.

Each year of the survey contains questionnaire responses from managers. The 1998 cross-section survey also contains data from interviews held with worker representatives as well as information from a self-completion questionnaire which employees in the selected workplace were invited to fill-in.

Managers participating in the survey were usually the most senior manager at the workplace with responsibility for employment relations. They were asked mainly factual questions covering a wide range of issues that deal with the employment relationship. Some examples include: recruitment and training, consultation and communication, worker representation, payment systems, equal opportunities, health and safety, flexibility and performance, change, and attitudes to work.

Worker representatives were interviewed where there was a lay representative of a recognised union at the workplace or, if there was no recognised union, with the senior employee representative of any joint consultative committee operating at the workplace. An interview was only conducted with the permission of management. Representatives were asked about the duties they performed when dealing with management and employees.

Employees were randomly selected by the interviewer from a list of all employees provided by the management respondent. A maximum of 25 employees were selected, however, in workplaces with fewer than 25 employees, all were asked to complete the questionnaire. Questions asked were predominantly concerned with the employees attitudes and impressions of work covering issues such as satisfaction and commitment.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS) series began in 1980 and was sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Policy Studies Institute. It was previously known as the Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (WIRS) and included surveys conducted in 1980, 1984 and 1990. In 1998, the name of the series was changed to better reflect the present content of the survey. Cross-sectional and panel WERS surveys were conducted in 1998.

The primary aim of the survey series is to provide statistically reliable, nationally representative data on the current state of workplace relations and employment practices in Britain. The National Centre for Social Research (formerly SCPR) has been responsible for sampling and statistical consultancy, the conduct of the fieldwork, coding and preparation of the final data.

The WERS98 Dissemination Service was established in October 1999 at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. The Service was funded for a two year period for the ESRC, and closed in January 2002. All major activity at the WERS Dissemination Service has now ceased, but the website will continue to remain live for the benefit of WERS98 users and those interested in WERS98.


Component studies of data series are held and supplied separately, usually as cross-sectional or panel datasets.

Access Information

'General release' files are available to UK Data Archive registered users. There are separate access conditions for a small fraction of the WERS 1998 data that has been placed in separate and restricted files. This is to protect the anonymity of individuals and firms. Further details are provided on the UK Data Archive WERS major studies web page.

Acquisition Information


Sources for the information in this record include the UK Data Archive catalogue records.

Record created by Karen Dennison, UK Data Archive.

Other Finding Aids

UK Data Archive web pages:

Conditions Governing Use

Users are required to agree to certain conditions of use, including those governing reproduction and those relating to citation, acknowledgement and disclaimer for publications.

Appraisal Information

All datasets available from the UK Data Archive have been reviewed by an Acquisitions Review Committee.


At the time of writing, the sponsors of the 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS98) are actively considering the case for a fifth WERS, subject to securing the necessary funds.

Related Material

Related datasets held at the UK Data Archive are listed in the appropriate UK Data Archive online catalogue records.


References and publications by principal investigators and resulting from secondary analysis are listed in the UK Data Archive online catalogue records.

Geographical Names