Summary. The paper addresses problems arising from the representation of workplace population data by using geographical areas based on residential locations. This widespread international practice detrimentally affects publication of census workplace data. A novel solution is proposed for the creation of new workplace zones by using automated zone design techniques and is applied to five prototype areas by using England and Wales 2001 census microdata. Particular workplace-based disclosure control challenges are addressed and the characteristics of the proposed workplace zones reviewed. This approach offers important benefits for the international reporting of workplace data and is currently being incorporated in England and Wales 2011 census output plans.