6305.0.55.001 - Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, Preliminary, August 2008 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/04/2009   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH) produces statistics on the composition and distribution of earnings and hours paid for, of employees. Information is collected about the characteristics of employers, such as industry and sector, and their employees, such as occupation, type of employee, and method of setting pay. This information is used to provide comprehensive statistics about earnings and hours paid for, for various groups of employees, for example, classified by industry, occupation and pay setting method. Results from the survey are used by Commonwealth and State government agencies, employer associations and trade unions in developing and reviewing wages and labour market policies, and in the wage negotiating process. The survey is a key data source for the Australian Fair Pay Commission, and data are also used by academics and other analysts in studies of earnings distributions.

Estimates are available by state/territory, industry, sector, occupation, sex, adult/junior, managerial status, employee type, employer size, full-time/part-time status and methods of setting pay.


The reference period for the 2008 Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours is the last pay period ending on or before 15 August 2008.

Preliminary survey estimates are released approximately seven months after the reference period, and final estimates are released approximately nine months after the reference period.


Information for the EEH survey is collected via mail questionnaires from a sample of approximately 10,000 private and public sector employers selected from the ABS Business Register. The employer sample is stratified by state, sector, industry division and employment size to ensure adequate state, sector and industry representation. These employers select a sample of employees from their payroll(s) using instructions provided by the ABS. Approximately 57,000 employees are sampled. A minimum response rate of 91% is achieved for the survey as a whole and for each state and industry.

There are two principal sources of error in surveys, sampling error and non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise non-sampling error by the careful design and testing of questionnaires, detailed checking of the reported data and quality control of processing.

Sampling error occurs when a sample or subset of the population is surveyed rather than the entire population. One measure of the likely difference resulting from not including all of the population in the survey is given by the standard error. there are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one standard error from the figure that would have been obtained if the whole population had been included in the survey.


The EEH survey has been conducted, either annually or biennially, since 1975. The survey has been biennial since 1996. Ordinarily, the survey is conducted in respect of the last pay period ended on or before the third Friday in May of the reference year. The 2008 EEH survey, however, was conducted in respect of the last pay period ended on or before the third Friday in August, that is, 15 August 2008.

Estimates of employee earnings produced from the EEH survey are based on the Australian conceptual framework for measures of employee remuneration. From 2006, the measure of employee earnings for estimates produced from the survey is regular wages and salaries in cash (including amounts salary sacrificed), that is, cash earnings. Prior to 2006, estimates of employee earnings excluded amounts salary sacrificed by employees. Estimates from the 2002 and 2004 surveys have also been reproduced on the new conceptual basis as an aid to analysis, and broad level estimates for these years were included in the electronic data release accompanying the May 2006 publication.

Data on how employees' pay was set in the reference period have been collected in the survey since 2000. The 2000 survey collected data on whether all or any part of employees' pay was set by an individual agreement, collective agreement, award, or a combination of these. From 2002, each survey cycle has collected information on whether the main part of employees' pay was set by an individual agreement, collective agreement or award. It is considered unlikely that the change between 2000 and 2002 will affect comparability of estimates across time.

The EEH Survey uses Australian standard classifications to facilitate data comparability across statistical series. Industry data for August 2008 onwards are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). Data for earlier series are classified to the 1993 edition of ANZSIC. From May 2006 onwards, data on employee occupation are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Data for earlier series, issued since 1996, are classified to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition.

The ABS conducts a number of sample surveys of businesses which collect information about employee earnings, or other measures of employee remuneration, including the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings, Survey of Employment and Earnings and Labour Price Index. Care should be taken when comparing estimates of average weekly earnings compiled from the EEH survey with those published quarterly in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0) because of differences in the earnings concepts being measured, methodological differences between the surveys and differences in the two samples used.


Employee, Earnings and Hours, Preliminary, Australia, August 2008 (cat. no. 6305.0.55.001) contains Explanatory Notes, a Glossary and a Technical Note which can provide further information about data sources, terminology and other technical aspects of the series.


Employee, Earnings and Hours, Preliminary, Australia, August 2008 (cat. no. 6305.0.55.001) is available from the ABS website.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, then ABS Consultancy Services can help you with customised services to suit your needs. Inquiries should be made to the National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070.