1288.0 - Standards for Labour Force Statistics, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/1996   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  
Contents >> Status in Employment >> Underlying concepts



3. The standard term for the variable is 'Status in Employment'.

4. The term 'Status in Employment' is used in international standards. The term 'Employment Status' should be avoided as it is easily confused with the concept of Labour Force Status.


Nominal definition

5. Status in Employment is determined by an employed person's position in relation to their 'main' job. The Australian status in employment classification classifies job holders according to their perception of the relationship between themselves and the enterprise for which they work, together with the legal status of the enterprise where this can be established. The groups distinguished in the Australian classification are:

  • employee - a person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, a retainer fee from their employer while working on a commission basis, tips, piece-rates, or payment in kind; or a person who operates his or her own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees
  • employer - a person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees
  • own account worker - a person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires no employees; and
  • contributing family worker - a person who works without pay in an economic enterprise operated by a relative.

6. The legal status concept is used to classify owner-managers of incorporated businesses as employees rather than as employers or own account workers, for consistency with Australian National Accounts practice. Individuals who work in their own business are queried about the legal status of the business. Although they may 'own' the business, if it is incorporated the individual is not held personally liable for the economic enterprise should it become insolvent. Those individuals who own an incorporated business, with or without hiring one or more employees, are therefore classified as employees. If the business is unincorporated (and hence the owner is liable for the economic enterprise), those who hire employees are classified as employers and those who do not are classified as own account workers.

7. Status in Employment is an attribute of the counting unit 'job'. It is collected in household surveys as an attribute of the counting unit person by reference to the main job held by the person.

Operational definition

8. Status in Employment is measured by determining if a person is:
  • an employee
  • an employer
  • an own account worker or
  • a contributing family worker.

9. Collectively the last three classes (employers, own account workers and contributing family workers) may be described as the self-employed, although this is not a concept recognised in international standards or in the Labour Force Survey. The term 'Self-employed' should only be used collectively to describe employers, own account workers and contributing family workers. If it is necessary to aggregate the categories own account worker and contributing family worker then both terms should be included as an output label, that is 'Own Account and Contributing Family Workers'.


10. The minimum question set measures the concept of status in the employment using the same module of five questions as the Labour Force Survey. If data on status in employment are not required, questions 6 to 11 of the minimum question set can be omitted.

Previous PageNext Page