6348.0 - Labour Costs, Australia, 2010-11 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/05/2012   
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Survey design

Estimation methodology

Effects of rounding

Data comparability

Further information


1 This publication contains estimates from the Major Labour Costs Survey, which is a sample survey of employers conducted for the 2010-11 financial year. The survey was designed to obtain information from employers about the main labour costs incurred as a consequence of employing labour. Similar surveys were conducted annually for the financial years 1985-86 to 1991-92, then for 1993-94, 1996-97 and 2002-03.

2 The Major Labour Costs Survey collected data on the following labour cost components:

  • employee earnings
  • superannuation
  • payroll tax
  • workers’ compensation
  • fringe benefits tax.

3 Costs were measured on a cash accounting basis, net of any reimbursements, subsidies or rebates.

Reference period

4 The reference period covered by the collection was, in general, the 12 months ended 30 June. Where businesses/organisations were unable to supply information on this basis, an accounting period for which data can be provided was used for data other than those relating to employment counts. Such businesses/organisations make a substantial contribution to some of the estimates presented in this publication, for example the Mining industry. As a result, the estimates can reflect trading conditions that prevailed in periods outside the twelve months ended June in the relevant year.

5 The reference period for fringe benefits tax is for the 12 months ending 31 March.

6 Although financial estimates relate to the full twelve months of the reference period, employment estimates relate to the last pay period ending in June of the given year. As a result, estimates of costs per employee may be affected by any fluctuations in employment during the reference period.

7 Financial data incorporate all units in scope of the Major Labour Costs Survey that were in operation at any time during the year.


8 The businesses/organisations that contribute to the statistics in this publication are classified:


9 The scope of the survey consisted of all employing businesses/organisations in both the public and private sectors except for the following Type of Legal Organisation (TOLO) and ANZSIC categories:
  • Diplomatic or Trade Missions and Other Foreign Government (TOLO 41 and 42)
  • Division A Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, except for Government units (TOLO 21-36)
  • ANZSIC Class 6330 Superannuation Funds
  • ANZSIC Class 7552 Foreign Government Representation
  • ANZSIC Subdivision 96 Private Households Employing Staff and Undifferentiated Goods- and Service-Producing Activities of Households for Own Use.

10 In general, the following organisations and their employees were excluded:
  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • employees of overseas embassies, consulates, etc.
  • employees based outside Australia
  • employees on workers' compensation who are not paid through the payroll
  • directors and office holders of public sector organisations who are not paid a salary.


11 This section discusses frame and statistical units.


12 Businesses/organisations contributing to the estimates in this publication are sourced from the ABS Business Register (ABSBR), which has two components as described below.

Statistical units

13 The ABS uses an economic statistics units model on the ABSBR to describe the characteristics of businesses/organisations, and the structural relationships between related businesses/organisations. Within large and diverse business/organisation groups, the units model is used to define reporting units that can provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

14 The statistical unit for the survey comprised all activities of an employer in a particular state or territory. Statistical units were stratified by state, industry and employer size, and within each stratum, statistical units were selected with equal probability.

15 In mid 2002, the ABS commenced sourcing its register information from the Australian Business Register and at that time changed its business register to a two population model. The two populations comprise what is called the Profiled Population and the Non-Profiled Population. The main distinction between businesses/organisations in the two populations relates to the complexity of the business/organisation structure and the degree of intervention required to reflect the business/organisation structure for statistical purposes.


16 The majority of businesses/organisations included on the ABSBR are in the Non-Profiled Population. Most of these businesses/organisations are understood to have simple structures. For these businesses/organisations, the ABS is able to use the ABN as the basis for a statistical unit. One ABN equates to one statistical unit.


17 For the population of businesses/organisations where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business/organisation. These businesses/organisations constitute the Profiled Population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses/organisations. The statistical units model described below caters for such businesses/organisations.
  • Enterprise group: This is a unit covering all the operations in Australia of one or more legal entities under common ownership and/or control. It covers all the operations in Australia of legal entities which are related in terms of the current Corporations Law (as amended by the Corporations Legislation Amendment Act 1991), including legal entities such as companies, trusts and partnerships. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised.
  • Enterprise: The enterprise is an institutional unit comprising:
      • a single legal entity or business/organisation entity, or
      • more than one legal entity or business/organisation entity within the same enterprise group and in the same institutional subsector (i.e. they are all classified to a single SISCA subsector).
  • Type of activity unit (TAU): The TAU is comprised of one or more business/organisation entities, sub-entities or branches of a business/organisation entity within an enterprise group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the ANZSIC). Where a business/organisation cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision.


18 The frame for the Major Labour Costs Survey (from which the sample was collected) was stratified using information held on the ABSBR. Businesses/organisations eligible for selection in the sample were then selected from the frame using stratified random sampling techniques.

19 The Major Labour Costs Survey used a sample survey methodology and collected information using a mail-out/mail-back collection methodology. Some businesses/organisations provided their information to the ABS electronically.

20 A sample of public and private sector employing units was selected from the ABN and TAU units on the ABSBR to ensure adequate state and industry representation.

Concepts, Sources and Methods

21 The conceptual framework used in Major Labour Costs Survey aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's employment and earnings statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).


22 The Major Labour Costs Survey used number raised estimation.


23 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.


Comparison with other ABS statistics

24 In some cases estimates given in this publication may differ slightly from those from other sources. These differences may be the result of sampling or non-sampling error, or may result from differences in scope, coverage, definitions or methodology.

Historical comparisons

25 Care should be taken when comparing estimates from the 2002-03 and 2010-11 surveys with estimates from previous Major Labour Costs surveys because of changes in classifications, accounting standards, statistical units model and treatment of certain data items.

Industry classification

26 The industry estimates in this publication are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) 2006 edition. In the 1993-94, 1996-97 and 2002-03 issues, industry data were based on the 1993 version of the ANZSIC. The 2006 edition of ANZSIC was adopted to provide a more contemporary industrial classification system, taking into account issues such as changes in the structure and composition of the economy, changing user demands and compatibility with major international classification standards. Readers are therefore cautioned against making comparisons of industry across time periods.

27 For more information, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat.no.1292.0) which contains more detail on the 2006 industry classification and concordances between the 1993 and 2006 versions.


28 The 2002-03 and 2010-11 estimates for employer superannuation costs exclude the value of contributions to superannuation funds made under an employee's salary sacrifice arrangement. These costs were included in the superannuation cost estimates for previous Major Labour Costs Surveys. For the 2002-03 and 2010-11 Major Labour Costs Surveys, employee contributions to superannuation under a salary sacrifice arrangement, along with other salary sacrifice amounts (excluding any FBT incurred), were excluded from superannuation and instead treated as earnings.


29 The earnings estimates in the 2002-03 and 2010-11 surveys included the value of salary sacrificed.

30 In the current and earlier surveys, employers reported the aggregate taxable value of fringe benefits provided to employees during the FBT year (1 April to 31 March). These amounts were obtained from an employer's FBT return for the relevant year. Where an employer had FBT exemptions, their FBT return would not have included the full value of fringe benefits that might have been provided. Until recently, there was no other source of information about FBT exempt fringe benefits paid to employees, which resulted in an understatement of the value of fringe benefits provided to employees in previous Major Labour Costs surveys. From 1 April 1999, all employers have been required to record the grossed-up (taxable) value of fringe benefits on payment summaries (previously known as group certificates) of employees who received relevant benefits with a total taxable value exceeding $2,000. This is known as the reportable fringe benefits amount and must be reported regardless of an employer's exemption status with regard to FBT liabilities. The 2002-03 and 2010-11 Major Labour Costs Surveys collected the aggregate value of reportable fringe benefits amount for each selected employer and this was used to provide more complete estimates of the value of fringe benefits paid to employees.

Australian Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards

31 The new Australian Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (AEIFRS) were progressively implemented in Australia from 1 January 2005. As a result, a number of items in the financial accounts of Australian businesses/organisations have been affected by changed definitions, which have in turn affected both income statements and balance sheets. A range of ABS economic collections source data from financial accounts of businesses/organisations and use those data to derive economic statistics. There have been no changes in the associated economic definitions.

32 Since the implementation of AEIFRS, analysis of published time series data has indicated structural breaks in series. The magnitude of such breaks, however, cannot be determined without imposing a disproportionate load upon data providers to ABS surveys and other administratively collected data. The ABS will continue to monitor developments and report any significant identified impacts as a result of AEIFRS.

Statistical units model

33 The ABS introduced a new statistical units model as a result of the introduction of The New Tax System on 1 July 2000. For more information on the impacts of the introduction of the new economic statistics units model, refer to Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics [Arising from The New Tax System] (cat.no.1372.0).


Related publications

34 The following publications contain related information:

Other information available

35 More detailed estimates than those included in the PDF version of this publication are available in spreadsheet format. Both versions can be found by selecting the Downloads tab at the top of this page.

36 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.

37 Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


38 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.