A number of Civil Service departments employ staff in Northern Ireland, who are covered by legislation passed specifically for this area.
The following departments have employees based in Northern Ireland:
Together, this group makes up the Northern Ireland Home Civil Service Network (NIHCS).
Last updated - 9th December 2008
The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976 made it illegal to directly discriminate on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion. It established an agency with the duty of promoting equality of opportunity in employment between people of different religious beliefs.
The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1989 also made indirect discrimination illegal, and set up the Fair Employment Commission, (now the Equality Commission), which monitors the religious composition of all Northern Ireland workforces every year.
Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 further required public authorities to promote equal opportunities for people of different:
It also promoted equality for any employees with a disability, or caring responsibilities.
Northern Ireland public authorities must produce an Equality Scheme stating how they propose to promote equality in each of these areas.
The Cabinet Office has two main roles in promoting equality and diversity in the work of the Northern Ireland Home Civil Service monitoring and coordinating:
Under the 1989 Fair Employment Act, the Cabinet Office seeks contributions from departments in the Northern Ireland Home Civil Service (NIHCS) for the annual monitoring of diversity in departments (and the more detailed triennial monitoring). It then submits them, as an aggregated return, to the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland.
To this end, the Fair Employment (Specification of Public Authority) Order Northern Ireland 1989 was passed, making the Prime Minister a public authority in respect of the Act, and the legally held employer for all Home Civil Servants working in Northern Ireland.
The decision to submit an aggregated return for all departments reflects various factors, including their size, the possible identification of individual members of staff and the sensitive nature of the work of many departments.
Although the Cabinet Office is responsible for monitoring, it has no responsibility for ensuring that NIHCS departments fulfil their obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
In addition to the statutory monitoring role, the Cabinet Office also liaises between individual departments and the Equality Commission throughout the year and coordinates regular meetings of the NIHCS.
These meetings provide opportunities for members to share good practice and discuss issues of common interest. The Cabinet Office also provides support and advice to the NIHCS departments on a range of equality and diversity issues