The decentralisation of employment relations in the British public sector

Ian Kirkpatrick, Kim Hoque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this article is to investigate differences between the British public and private sectors in terms of the decentralisation of employment relations. Drawing on data from the 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey, the article arrives at three main conclusions. First, the analysis reveals that while local-level managers in both sectors have similar levels of responsibility for employment relations issues, those in the public sector are, on the whole, significantly less likely to be able to exercise authority. Second, the results indicate some marked variations in practice within the public sector, with managers in education having the greatest level of authority. Finally, the article explores the extent to which differences in local-level authority between the public and private sectors can be explained by higher-level collective bargaining, and the presence of higher-level personnel specialists. These factors have only a partial influence, and do not fully explain why local-level employee relations managers in some areas (notably health) are less able to exercise authority than their counterparts in the private sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-120
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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