Recruitment and selection of staff currently employed by MLA's

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FOI 51-21

2 December 2021



Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”)

I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 9 November 2021 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:

“1. Can you provide the gender breakdown of all staff currently employed by MLAs, if possible can you also break this down by employment grade (grade 1, grade 2, grade 3)?

Please see information contained in the table at Appendix A below:

2. Does the Recruitment and Selection procedure document provided in FoI 49-20 apply to the recruitment and selection of staff by MLAs? If not please can you provide documents relating to the recruitment and selection procedure for MLA support staff.

3. If the recruitment and selection procedure document in FoI 49-20 does apply to the hiring of MLA support staff: are MLA staff employed on permanent or temporary basis for the purposes of point 9 in the recruitment and selection procedures document. By this I mean is it the case that positions for MLA staff must be advertised externally?

The Recruitment and Selection procedures provided in FOI 49-20 applies to Assembly Commission staff, it does not apply to Members’ support staff.

Under paragraph 33 (3) of the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016 (“the Determination”) Members’ support staff must be appointed on merit after having been identified by a fair and open competition.  Members are individually responsible for employing their own staff and undertake the recruitment and selection themselves.  While the Assembly Commission has no role in the process, as part of its services to Members it has produced a guide to assist Members, which details the general rules ofbest practice in recruitment procedures.  The ‘Recruitment Guidance: Members Support Staff’ document is attached at Appendix B (separate).

4. Can you provide the most recent version of a handbook for MLA staff?

The Assembly Commission does not provide a handbook for Members’ employees as this would be a matter for each individual Member as the employer.  However, under the provisions of the Determination, staff must be engaged by Members on the standard contract included in the Schedule in the Determination, which contains details of the disciplinary and grievance procedures.

5. Can you provide information on what the three employment grades of MLA staff (grade 1, grade 2, grade 3) equate to. For example, do they link to specific job titles or responsibilities?”

The three employment grades, while set by the Determination are not defined.  This would be a matter for each individual Member, as the employer, to decide.

You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.

If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.


Yours sincerely




Appendix A                                                                                          

1. Can you provide the gender breakdown of all staff currently employed by MLAs, if possible can you also break this down by employment grade (grade 1, grade 2, grade 3)?

MLA Support Staff




Grand total

Grade 1




Grade 2




Grade 3










*The data is accurate as at 18 October 2021.