Business Indicators Respondent

Introduction
Welcome to the Help page for the Quarterly Business Indicators Survey (QBIS). Refer to this section if you have received a QBIS form from us and require assistance in completing the survey.

Listed below are a number of "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)". If you have any further queries, please refer to the Business Indicators Contact Us page.

For help using the online survey tool (eSurvey), please see eSurvey Help.

Survey Background
QBIS collects a range of key data that is released on a quarterly basis, providing measures of economic growth that indicate changes in the business cycle. This data includes profits, inventories, sales, and wages and salaries. The results from this survey are published in Business Indicators, Australia (cat no. 5676.0).

QBIS statistics are drawn upon by a wide variety of individuals and organisations in both the public and private sector, with major users including:

- The ABS' National Accounts
- Reserve Bank of Australia
- Commonwealth Department of Treasury and the State Treasuries
- State and Commonwealth Government departments and agencies
- Industry organisations and associations
- Schools, universities and other educational institutions
- Market analysts and economists
- Media

QBIS data is one of the main components in the calculation of the quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, which is published in the quarterly publication Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat no. 5206.0).

If your question about the Quarterly Business Indicators Survey is not answered on these pages, please contact the toll-free (excluding mobile phones) phone number 1800 642 149.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions
1. How was I selected?
2. Why are you collecting this data?
3. How did you get my company name and address?
4. How long will I be in the sample?
5. I am only a small business with insignificant data. Should I be in the survey?
6. Can I have more time to complete the form?
7. Why is this survey not due at the same time as my Business Activity Statement?
8. Is it compulsory? What if I refuse to fill it in?
9. This is an intrusion into my private business. Is confidentiality guaranteed?
10. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation was sold during the reference period?
11. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation was sold before the start of the reference period?
12. What do I do if my business/organisation is still operating but didn't trade during the reference period?
13. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation has gone into liquidation/administration during the reference period?
14. I'm not sure how to report data in thousands of dollars (A$'000) on the form.
15. What about the workload we already have?
16. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms?
17. How accurate do the figures need to be?
18. I have already sent you the information requested.
19. Why do I need to change passwords for my eSurvey every quarter?
20. Why can't I see the figures provided last quarter in my current form?
21. Why do I need to provide a reason if the figures provided differ by more than 10 percent from those reported last quarter?
22. The data I provided last quarter was an estimate and I now have more accurate figures available. What should I do?

Income Items

1. How should I report sales income?
2. My business operates all over Australia. What should I do if I am unable to split my income by state?

Labour Costs

1. How should I report labour costs?
2. What are 'provisions for employee entitlements'?
3. What about persons working for the business under contract?
4. My business has employees all over Australia. What should I do if I am unable to split wages and salaries by state?

Inventories

1. What are inventories?
2. How should I report inventories?

Employment

1. How should I report employment?

General Questions

1. How was I selected?

The survey is based on a sample of approximately 16,000 businesses from a total population of approximately 1,000,000 businesses which are in scope of the survey.

The probability of a business being selected in an ABS survey depends on its expected contribution to the economy, which are presented by industry and state/territory. Large businesses, and those that are significant to industry or state/territory statistics, are generally selected every quarter. The process for selecting other businesses is random, and if a business is selected, it represents a number of other businesses with similar characteristics.


2. Why are you collecting this data?

QBIS collects quarterly data relating to profits, inventories, sales, and wages and salaries. The survey, which was fully implemented in the March quarter 2001, collects data from a sample of private sector businesses. While being an indicator of economic performance in its own right, the results of this survey are also used as key inputs into the compilation of quarterly estimates of the Australian National Accounts.


3. How did you get my company name and address?

Your company's name and address details are sourced from the ABS Business Register (ABR). This contains the name and addresses of all businesses that have registered an Australian Business Number (ABN) with the Australia Tax Office (ATO).


4. How long will I be in the survey for?

The length of time that a business is selected in any particular survey will depend on factors such as the size of the business, the number of businesses with similar characteristics, and how significant the activities of the business are to the overall results. The methods for selecting large and smaller businesses are outlined below.

Larger businesses have a high chance of selection in multiple ABS business surveys. Due to their significant contribution to the overall survey results, they will usually remain in a survey on an ongoing basis.

Smaller businesses have a lower chance of selection and will usually be included in a particular survey for up to three years; though there can be some exceptions to this rule, particularly if a small business has a significant impact on the survey results. Generally, smaller businesses are less likely to be included in more than one survey at a time because of the large number of businesses that make up this population. However, there will always be some cases where inclusion in more than one survey cannot be avoided. Where possible, the ABS will utilise data from existing administrative data sources to replace or reduce direct data collection from smaller businesses.

5. I am only a small business with insignificant data. Should I be in the survey?

The ABS considers the activities of small businesses to be just as important as large businesses and as such cannot be excluded from participation in ABS surveys. Smaller businesses have different characteristics from large businesses and are affected by different government policies and incentives. Usually, a sample of smaller businesses is selected to represent a large number of other like businesses, and together they make an important contribution to the Australian economy, especially at state and territory levels. As such their contribution to the survey results is important.


6. Can I have more time to complete the form?

Businesses experiencing difficulties completing ABS survey forms by the due date can request an extension. Extensions may be granted on a case by case basis and should be requested by contacting the toll-free (excluding mobile phones) phone number 1800 642 149, that also appears on the front of the survey form. Please note that careful estimates are acceptable where actual data is not available.


7. Why is this survey not due at the same time as my Business Activity Statement?

The Quarterly Business Indicators Survey (QBIS) is a major input for the quarterly GDP figures, produced by the National Accounts Branch of the ABS. As a result, the due date for QBIS, which occurs prior to the BAS deadline, cannot be changed as the timely release of quarterly GDP figures are relied on by key government and private sector stakeholders and international organisations.


8. Is it compulsory? What if I refuse to fill it in?

The ABS relies on the willing cooperation of businesses selected in our surveys to provide accurate information as requested. The vast majority of businesses respond regularly to our requests for information. The questions included in QBIS are asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. Furthermore, the Australian Statistician has the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions. As most business survey results contribute towards policy and legislation formulation, it is crucial that your response is provided to produce reliable and useful results.


9. This is an intrusion into my private business. Is confidentiality guaranteed?

Data supplied by businesses to the ABS remains strictly confidential. It is used to compile aggregate estimates and under no circumstances does the ABS publish any data that would enable data from your business to be identified. Furthermore, it is an offence under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 for ABS staff to either directly or indirectly divulge or communicate any information furnished in pursuance of the Act to any person (other than the person from whom the information was obtained). The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.


10. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation was sold during the reference period?

If your business/organisation was sold during the reference period, then the form should be completed using figures up to and including the day that the business was sold, as well as figures relating to any other new activity undertaken by the selected entity (e.g. ABN) for the remainder of the reference period.

It is important to report the date the business was sold in the comments field on the form. If your business/organisation ceased to operate after the sale, please also indicate in the comments section of the form whether there were intentions for the business/organisation to trade in the future. This will help determine whether the business/organisation will be selected in the next survey reference period.


11. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation was sold before the start of the reference period?

If your business/organisation was sold prior to the beginning of the reference period, you will still need to submit your form with comments indicating the sale of the entity and the date of the sale. This will help determine whether the business will be selected in the next survey reference period.


12. What do I do if my business/organisation is still operating but didn't trade during the reference period?

If the business/organisation is still operating but did not trade during the reference period, you will still need to submit your form with comments stating that your business/organisation did not trade this quarter. You do not need to include any figures or zero values.


13. Do I still need to complete the form if my business/organisation has gone into liquidation/administration during the reference period?

If your business/organisation has gone into liquidation or administration during the reference period, the form should be completed using figures up to and including the day that the business was liquidated or went into administration. It is also important to include the date that this occurred and provide details in the Comments and Time Taken fields. Best available estimates of the data should be provided.

If you are unable to access the accounts, please include details of the liquidator or administrator in the Comments section of the survey.


14. I'm not sure how to report data in thousands of dollars (A$'000) on the form.

Organisations that have small turnovers and report income/expenditure of less than $1,000 should use the rounding techniques outlined below.

All monetary values should be reported in thousands of dollars (A$'000) on the form, rounded to the nearest thousand dollars. However, all values between $1 to $999 will be rounded up and reported as $1,000 on the form. Examples are shown below:

Actual IncomeReport data in ABS form
('$,000)
< $500$1
> $500$1
< $1,500$1
≥ $1,500$2
$10,000$10
$100,000$100
$1,000,000$1,000
$10,000,000$10,000
$100,000,000$100,000


15. What about the workload we already have?

The ABS is very conscious of the reporting load imposed on businesses in completing our statistical surveys. The ABS has been actively pursuing a range of initiatives to manage and minimise reporting load placed on businesses – please see Steps the ABS is taking to minimise reporting load on businesses.


16. Why don't you pay people to fill in your forms?

There is no provision within the Census & Statistics Act (1905) to reimburse businesses for the cost of providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. The majority of statistics derived from ABS business surveys provide information that is of value to the community as a whole.


17. How accurate do the figures need to be?

The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The information supplied by your business is used to produce estimates for all businesses within the same industry operating in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the estimates will be. However, if accurate data is not readily available, careful estimates will be accepted.


18. I have already sent you the information requested.

If you have received a reminder notice about your form, it is likely that you have returned the form at the same time as your reminder notice was issued. If you wish to confirm this, feel free to contact us so we can check against our records. The toll-free (excluding mobile phones) phone number 1800 642 149 can be also found on the front of the survey form.


19. Why do I need to change passwords for my eSurvey every quarter?

For security purposes, it is imperative that providers receive a new eSurvey password every quarter. This step ensures the safety of individual business information and protects against security breaches.


20. Why can't I see the figures provided last quarter in my current form?

Due to strict privacy policy guidelines protecting the information submitted by our providers, the ABS creates new eSurvey forms every quarter that do not contain previously submitted data. It is recommended that prior to submitting the webform, a copy is printed for your records, to ensure the accuracy of the responses provided in the next quarter. This will be useful to refer to when providing reasons for figures which differed by more than 10 percent from that reported last quarter (see Question 22).


21. Why do I need to provide a reason if the figures provided differ by more than 10 percent from that reported last quarter?

As this survey measures the growth of Australian industries over time, understanding why businesses/organisations report increased profits or losses by more than 10 per cent each quarter is important. The ABS adheres to strict confidentiality guidelines when handling all information provided in survey forms protected under the ABS Privacy Policy. For more information on confidentiality, please see Question 9 above.


22. The data I provided last quarter was an estimate and I now have more accurate figures available. What should I do?

If the sales estimate provided in the last quarter differs by more than 10 percent of the revised value, it is important that we revise the figure provided. To do this, please call the toll-free (excluding mobile phones) phone number 1800 642 149. An ABS representative will be able to assist you in revising your figures. For more information, please see Question 17 in the General Information section.

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Income Items

1. How should I report sales income?

Report all income generated from the sale of goods or provision of services by your business/organisation. This excludes the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and is net of any discounts given. Also excluded are items such as interest income, sales of assets, income from finance leases, funding from federal, state and/or local government, and royalties income.

Other examples of income include:
      - tuition fees
      - performing arts venue operation
      - income from the sale of advertising 'space' in print or other media
      - consulting fees
      - franchising fees received
      - geological surveying
      - site preparation
      - drilling
      - transportation
      - waste management
      - total income from levies (including administrative and sinking fund levies)
2. My business operates all over Australia. What should I do if I am unable to split my income by state?

State figures should be reported on the basis of where the goods or services were sold from rather to which state the goods or services were sold. Where exact data is unavailable, estimates for state breakdowns should be provided.

A dissection of income and sales by state is published in Business Indicators, Australia (cat. no. 5676.0) and is used by various government bodies including State Treasury departments as a measure of state performance.

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Labour Costs

1. How should I report labour costs?

All wages and salaries, including provisions for employee entitlements - gross (i.e. before tax), should be reported. Payments made to another business for the supply of staff on a fee or contract basis, where the staff entitlements are paid by the business supplying the employees, should not be recorded in Labour Costs. Any costs incurred by your business in the conduct of its own recruitment processes (e.g. payment directly to newspapers for running job vacancy advertisements) should also not be reported in this section.

Labour costs should exclude payments to contractors or sub-contractors operating under their own ABN.

Only include employer contributions paid into superannuation. This does not include personal superannuation contributions for business owners not drawing a wage.


2. What are 'provisions for employee entitlements'?

Provisions for employee entitlements refer to all forms of consideration given by a business/organisation in exchange for services rendered by its employees. Provisions for employee entitlements include wages, annual leave, sick leave, superannuation contributions, and long service leave. These liabilities are measured at the present value of management’s best estimate of the expenditure required to settle the present obligation.


3. What about persons working for the business under contract?

Contractors and subcontractors who are separate businesses (i.e. have their own ABN and are paid on a fee for service or commission only basis) should not be counted in Wages.

If your business paid another business for contract staff, and those persons were on the payroll of the other business, they should not be counted in Wages.

Persons employed on a fixed term contract, e.g. temporary staff/ workforce, should only be included if they were paid through the payroll during the reference pay period and Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax was deducted for them.


4. My business has employees all over Australia. What should I do if I am unable to split wages and salaries by state?

Wages should be split by where the actual physical work was undertaken rather than where the salaries were paid from. Where exact data is unavailable, estimates for state breakdowns should be provided.

A dissection of wages and salaries by state is published in Business Indicators, Australia (cat. no. 5676.0) and is used by various government bodies, including state Treasury departments, as a measure of state performance.


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Inventories

1. What are inventories?

Inventories include all materials, work in progress and finished goods owned by the business, whether held at locations of the business or elsewhere (except overseas). Inventories should be reported at book value at the end of the reference quarter.


2. How should I report inventories?

Inventories include split into the following three categories;
      - Raw materials: goods that a business holds with the intention of using to produce other goods or in rendering services. For example, iron ore to produce steel (produce a good) or raw food to make a restaurant meal (provide a service).
      - Work-in-progress: goods that still require work to reach the condition they are to be sold in, such as partially assembled machinery. The value of work-in-progress inventories should be reported net of progress payments billed.
      - Finished goods: goods that are to be sold in their current condition, including goods for resale. Inventories do not include depreciable assets of the business.
Do not include inventories held overseas.
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Employment

1. How should I report employment?

Employment is a headcount of all persons who worked for the business as proprietors, partners, salaried directors or other employees in the reference pay period. It excludes contractors as well as casual or seasonal employees who are on the payroll, but did not work during this pay period.


Thank you


The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of businesses returning their completed forms promptly to enable early processing and the production of high quality statistics. We look forward to your continued support.