6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2006  
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Contents >> Methods >> Household Collections >> Chapter 23. Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation

Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods was originally released in 2001 in both electronic and paper versions (cat. no. 6102.0). The paper publication will not be rereleased. However, the web version (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) is being updated on an ongoing basis. This chapter was updated on 15 December, 2005.


23.1 In recent years there has been increasing demand for information on the diversity of working arrangements in the Australian labour market, and on superannuation. The Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS) was conducted from April to June 2000, in a sample of households across Australia, in order to provide information that will inform the debate in these areas. It is planned to conduct the survey again in 2007.

23.2 The aims of the SEAS were to describe:

  • the diversity of working arrangements in the Australian workforce; and
  • people's superannuation arrangements.

23.3 SEAS focused on those characteristics of employment considered important in distinguishing newer and emerging working arrangements from the prevalent, but declining, full-time ongoing job with regular hours and paid leave entitlements. These characteristics include:
  • nature of employment (e.g. wage and salary earner, in own business, working on a fixed term contract);
  • job duration and expected future job duration;
  • access to paid leave;
  • number of hours worked, and preferred hours, indicating overwork and underemployment;
  • regularity of hours worked, and whether any hours were worked on weekends or in the evening or over night;
  • working arrangements such as multiple jobholding, shiftwork, work done at home;
  • earnings (amount and whether they vary); and
  • preferred work patterns.

23.4 The focus of the superannuation section of the survey was on:
  • the type of superannuation coverage that people had (e.g. employer or personal contributions, or both);
  • how much people and their employers were contributing to superannuation, and how much money people had accrued in superannuation;
  • reasons for not making personal contributions to superannuation; and
  • the amount of any lump sums recently received from superannuation, and how the lump sum was used.


23.5 First results from SEAS were released in Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (cat. no. 6361.0), in March 2001. This publication builds on work done as part of the supplement to the Labour Force Survey, the Forms of Employment Survey, published in Forms of Employment, Australia, (cat. no. 6359.0), to identify major employment categories in the Australian workforce. It also contains a wide range of information considered important in describing newer and emerging forms of working arrangements, and some information about superannuation coverage. A Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) is available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). For more information on this CURF, see Technical Paper: Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia: Confidentialised Unit Record File, 2000 (cat. no. 6361.0.55.002). Information on CURFS and the RADL can be found on the ABS web site, Services We Provide - CURFS.

23.6 Financial superannuation information, including the amount being contributed to superannuation and the amount of superannuation accrued, was supplemented over an extended period by data provided by superannuation funds and administrators. Funds and administrators provided information only for those individual respondents who authorised them to do so. This information will be released for the first time in Superannuation: Coverage and Financial Characteristics, Australia (cat. no. 6360.0) later in 2001.

23.7 The main population of interest is employed people. Estimates are produced on an original basis only (i.e. not seasonally adjusted) and include:
Socio-demographic informationSex, age, marital status, relationship in household, family, geographic region, housing tenure, educational attainment, birthplace and year of arrival in Australia.
Labour force dataLabour force status.
People employedWhether multiple job holder, status in employment, employment type, whether working on a casual basis (employees only), whether working on a contract basis (owner managers only), occupation, industry, time in job or business, whether job has a set finishing date, hours usually worked, hours worked at home, extra hours and overtime worked, preferred working hours, working patterns, preferred working patterns, paid leave entitlements, workplace injuries or illnesses sustained, training, work done at home, shiftwork, whether on call or stand-by, and whether paid by an employment agency.
People not currently working who had worked in the last 12 months
Some details of last job held.
SuperannuationWhether contributing to superannuation or drawing on superannuation; number of superannuation accounts and types of accounts; type of contributions, including personal, employer, spouse; amount being contributed, and amount accrued in superannuation; for those not making personal contributions, reasons for not personally contributing; and whether received a lump sum recently, and if 'yes' how the lump sum was used.
IncomeEarnings for each job (up to two jobs); annual income; main source of income; and all sources of income.

23.8 Most data relate to individuals. Some data are also available for households, families and income units.


23.9 The SEAS covered people aged 15-69 years who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia, excluding:
  • overseas residents in Australia;
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated resident population counts;
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependants) stationed in Australia;
  • people visiting private dwellings;
  • people living in remote and sparsely settled areas; and
  • people living in non-private dwellings (e.g. hotels).

23.10 Usual residents of selected private dwellings were included in the survey unless they were going to be absent from the dwelling until the end of the enumeration period. The exclusion of people living in remote and sparsely settled areas has only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory.


23.11 Most information was obtained in the SEAS by personal interview.

23.12 To maximise the quality of the superannuation data obtained from the survey, respondents were asked to refer to a relevant record (payslip and/or superannuation statement) to report amounts contributed to superannuation, and amounts accrued in superannuation. This information was supplemented by data provided by superannuation funds in cases where the respondent was unable to refer to the relevant record(s) and was willing to authorise their superannuation fund to provide the required information. For more information, see Superannuation: Coverage and Financial Characteristics, Australia (cat. no. 6360.0).


23.13 A probability sample design was used. The sample was drawn from the Population Survey Master Sample and excluded non-private dwellings and remote and sparsely settled strata. See Chapter 18 for further information on sample design used in household surveys.

23.14 The initial sample contained approximately 18,000 private dwellings, or 14,000 after sample loss.


23.15 Post-stratification estimation was used for person-level estimates. The post-stratification variables used to weight person-level estimates were:
  • state;
  • part of state;
  • sex; and
  • age.

23.16 Household, family and income unit estimates were also produced as part of SEAS. To obtain these estimates, weights for each household in the sample were calibrated with independent estimates of the number of households in Australia. The household benchmarks used to weight the number of households in the sample were:
  • state;
  • part of state; and
  • household composition.

23.17 The benchmarks used for people and households relate only to people living in private dwellings, and therefore do not (and are not intended to) match estimates of the total Australian resident population obtained from other sources.


23.18 Estimates from SEAS are subject to both sampling and non-sampling error (see Chapter 17 for more detail). The relative standard errors of survey estimates are included in each SEAS publication, and survey estimates with high relative standard errors are flagged with asterisks.


23.19 The 2000 survey was the first SEAS collection. Some of the information collected as part of SEAS is very similar to that collected as part of the Forms of Employment Survey and, in some cases, similar data have been previously collected as part of the wider labour force supplementary survey program. However, allowances should be made for sampling variability, and for differences in scope and survey methodology.


23.20 For further details contact the Labour Market Statistics Section, on Canberra (02) 6252 7206.

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