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Topics @ a Glance - Labour
Using Labour Statistics
Survey Respondent's Page
Business Survey Respondent's Help Page

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More Information
Business Surveys Charter
Statistical Clearing House
Suggestions Welcome
Frequently Asked Questions


Refer to our Survey Information page for detailed information on a particular survey


Do you have any questions relating to: the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings, the Survey of Employment and Earnings, the Job Vacancies Survey, the Industrial Disputes Collection or the Labour Price Index Survey? Your questions may be answered in Frequently Asked Questions.

If you need more help with any of our surveys, you can:

Dial our toll free numbers...

Free Call
Average Weekly Earnings, Survey of
1800 093 310
(08) 9360 5954
Employment and Earnings, Survey of
Job Vacancies Survey
Industrial Disputes Collection
1800 801 524
Labour Price Index Survey
1800 093 327

Write to us at...

Average Weekly Earnings, Survey of
    Labour Employer Surveys Section
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    GPO Box K881

    Perth WA 6842
Employment and Earnings, Survey of
Job Vacancies Survey
Industrial Disputes Collection
Labour Price Index Survey Labour Price Index Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics

GPO Box K881
Perth WA 6842


Business Surveys Charter

Effective from 1 July 2000, the Business Surveys Charter defines the relationship between the ABS and businesses which provide the ABS with information for statistical purposes.

Statistical Clearing House

The Statistical Clearing House is the central clearance point for all Australian Commonwealth Government surveys involving 50 or more businesses. The aim of the clearance process is to reduce the burden placed on businesses in completing Commonwealth Government surveys by eliminating duplication and ensuring that good practice is followed when designing and conducting business surveys.


As well as testing questions for our labour collections to make sure that they can be readily understood and easily completed, we rely on your comments and suggestions. Your first hand experience with our survey forms is the most valuable source of information for improvements.

If you have any comments or suggestions about our surveys you are invited to submit them to:

Ms Linda Fardell
Labour Market Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
PO Box 10
Belconnen ACT 2616

Telephone: (02) 6252 6562
Fax: (02) 6252 7512


1. What does the ABS do?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is Australia's official national statistical agency. We assist and encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community, by providing a high quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

We collect, compile, analyse and disseminate information on a wide range of social and economic matters. Our statistics are used by governments, business, industry organisations, academics and others seeking to understand Australian society and the economy.

Much of our economic data are collected directly from businesses through sample surveys. In this way, we minimise the number of businesses we need to include in our collections to publish reliable statistics. If your business is selected in one of our surveys, it is very important that you respond as fully as possible because you are representing other businesses of similar size and activity.

2. Where did you get my details from?

In order to provide and maintain accurate records of businesses to be covered in censuses and surveys, the ABS maintains a central register of businesses and organisations across Australia.

The register is kept up to date by regular checks from a wide variety of sources such as:
  • information provided by the previous owner of the business;
  • referring listings produced form the ABS current records back to the businesses themselves for amendments;
  • lists provided by industry associations of their members; and
  • business registrations with the Government bodies such as ABN registrations.

    3. Why was I selected?

    Rather than conduct a census of all businesses, the ABS selects a sample of employers to represent the total population of businesses. Large businesses, and those that are significant to industry or State/Territory statistics, are generally included in the sample. Other businesses are selected in the sample to ensure adequate State and industry representation. Your business represents a number of others of similar size and it is important that all size ranges are covered by the survey.

    4. 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 to our requests for information. However, the
    Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions.

    High response rates to the surveys ensure that the statistics are of an acceptable quality, and allow us to reduce the total reporting load on businesses by selecting the minimum sample size which is effective.

    5. How long will I be in the survey?

    Businesses are rotated into and out of a specific survey each quarter. Once selected, a business may be included in that survey for up to three consecutive years. Maintaining businesses in the quarterly surveys for this period is necessary because the surveys are designed to measure change and collecting data from a gradually changing sample provides the most reliable statistics. It is generally not possible to exclude individual businesses from participating in a survey without introducing biases to the survey results and therefore reducing the reliability of the important estimates.

    Smaller businesses which have provided data for the same survey for three or more consecutive years may seek an exemption from that survey by writing to the contact address shown on the survey form. Larger businesses make a more significant contribution to survey results and as such are generally selected for a longer period.

    6. Why am I selected in multiple ABS surveys?

    When the methodology is looked at for the different ABS surveys, we generally attempt to select as few similar small businesses across surveys as possible. If you are located in a smaller State or a smaller populated industry the likelihood of being selected in multiple ABS surveys increases. If you are in this situation the ABS is willing to provide assistance to you to help with the completion of required data. The opposite is also true, and if you are a large employer in a State or industry then your business is likely to be selected in a number of ABS surveys with little chance of rotating out of the sample. Please write to the contact address shown on the survey form if you require more information.

    If you have a problem which has not been resolved to your satisfaction by the contact on the survey form, you can write to:

    Respondent Liaison Officer
    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Locked Bag 10

    7. Why can't you get this information from the tax office or another government agency?

    Changes introduced in The New Tax System mean that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) collects some of the data that the ABS needs for its economic statistics series. The ATO will pass this data on to the ABS.

    However the ABS has a range of statistical data requirements that goes well beyond what the ATO and other government agencies collect. If you are selected in an ABS survey, please continue to provide data, even if you think it is similar to what you may have already provided to the ATO.

    8. What is the data used for?

    Labour statistics are used extensively in both economic and social analyses. They are used in the analysis, evaluation, and monitoring of: the economy; the labour market; a wide range of government policies (relating in particular to employment, income support, industrial relations); and population groups of particular concern (women, younger persons, older persons, Indigenous people, etc).

    9. Who uses the data?

    Labour statistics are used by a broad audience and serve a number of purposes. Users of labour statistics include: governments and their agencies and advisers, economists, financial analysts, journalists, business people, trade unions, employer associations, students, teachers, industrial tribunals, academic researchers and lobby groups.

    10. Is the information that I provide confidential?

    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 which would enable your data to be identified. Further, 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). Under no circumstances whatsoever may any other government department, organisation or individual gain access to the information you supply to the ABS, unless you give your written consent. The Act provides for penalties of up to $5,000 or two years in jail, or both, against officers who breach this rule. Information collated from the survey forms can only be obtained in an aggregate form where no individual's data can be identified.

    11. What if I don't have time to fill in the form?

    Businesses experiencing difficulties in completing a survey form by the due date can request an extension of time. Extensions may be granted on a case by case basis, and should be requested by telephoning the contact number on the front of the survey form.

    12. Can I request assistance to complete the form?

    Businesses requiring assistance to complete a survey form can telephone the contact number on the front of the survey form. For some surveys it is also possible to supply the requested information over the telephone if it is more convenient.

    13. Can I complete the form for a different pay period?

    This should only be done if there is no possible way to collect details for the reference period on the survey form. If this is the case, then the pay period before the reference period should be used. If this is applicable to your organisation, please telephone the ABS using the number (free call) on the survey form and advise our staff that this is the situation.

    14. Do you care about the workload we have?

    ABS is conscious of the workload placed on the business community. Over recent years the ABS has responded to government initiatives and has conducted reviews into reporting load. ABS has achieved significant reductions in reporting load through review of statistical methods, changes to form design, statistical procedures, integration of collections and data management strategies. Further work continues on data collection and sampling methodologies and statistical coordination. The ABS is also using data from administrative sources to decrease the burden on respondents.

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

    The ABS appreciates that considerable time and effort is required on the part of providers to complete the form. As there is no provision under the
    Census and Statistics Act 1905 to pay providers for their time, we rely on their cooperation. It is important that we get data from providers quickly so that the resulting information can be released as soon as possible after the period to which it relates.

    16. How good are your figures anyway? I know people who just put in any old rubbish.

    We know that some
    businesses claim to fill in rubbish on their survey and forms and possibly a few do. However, our processing systems contain checks for consistency and validity and we are usually able to identify figures which are seriously incorrect. These checks suggest that most businesses do give the best figures that they can. Discussions with industry organisations indicate that businesses, who are now using statistics more in managing their operations, see the need for accurate data and are supplying the ABS with accurate information.

    17. Can I email the data to the ABS?

    No. Even though respondents can contact the ABS via an email facility on the ABS webpage, this form has been designed for inquiries only and is not intended as a means of transmitting data for those participating in ABS surveys. You can, if you wish, provide information on the telephone.

    18. I have already sent you the requested information.

    If you believe you have already given the information requested by the ABS through a survey or other means, please contact us and let us know. If you gave figures over the telephone, please let us know the date you supplied the figures and the name of the contact officer you supplied them to (if known). If you sent in a completed survey form by mail, you will need to give your contact details, such as name and address, including the date the form was sent. If you have received a reminder notice about your form, you may have sent it in at the same time as your reminder notice was issued.


    The ABS is grateful for the cooperation of businesses in returning completed forms promptly to enable early processing and release of results from our surveys. We look forward to your continued support.

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