Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (Survey of)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS) was a new household survey conducted for the first time in 2000 and it is expected that a survey covering these topics will be conducted every five to six years. The survey covered people aged 15 to 69 living in private dwellings throughout Australia, excluding people living in sparsely settled areas. Information about people's working arrangements available from the survey includes employment type, job duration and expected job duration, hours worked and working patterns, and some work preferences. Superannuation information includes the types of contributions being made to people's superannuation, the amount being contributed, the amount accrued in superannuation, and the benefit structure and fund type of each account. For retired people, information includes whether they had received a lump sum recently, the amount of the lump sum received, whether any of the lump sum was rolled over, and whether they were receiving regular information from superannuation.


    The aims of the Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation were:

    to describe the diversity of employment arrangements in the Australian workforce, focusing on those characteristics considered important in identifying newer and emerging working arrangements; and

    to describe people's superannuation arrangements, and to obtain high quality information about amounts being contributed to people's superannuation and the amount they have accrued.

    Information obtained from the survey is particularly relevant to employment or labour market policy and retirement income policy.

    Users of SEAS data are expected include Treasury, the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business, the Department of Family and Community Services, State government departments, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, the Reserve Bank, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Productivity Commission, and universities.


    The SEAS was conducted in urban and rural areas in all States and Territories, but excluded people living in sparsely settled areas of Australia. The exclusion of these people has only a minor impact on aggregate estimates for individual States and Territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory, where such persons account for over 20% of the population.

    The SEAS covered private dwellings only, including houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. Non-private dwellings, such as hotels, boarding houses and institutions were not included in the survey.

    The survey covered persons aged 15 to 69 years who were usual residents of private dwellings, excluding:

    - overseas residents living in Australia;

    - diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated resident population figures; and

    - members of non-Australian defence forces and their dependants.

    Usual residents were those who regarded the dwelling as their own or main home. Others present were considered to be visitors and were not selected to participate in the survey.


    Conceptual framework

    There are two main conceptual frameworks used in the Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation. The first framework is used to classify different types of workers, or employed persons. This classification is integrated with the labour force framework and accords with the Australian status in employment classification. More information about these frameworks is given in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS Cat. No. 6102.0).

    The different categories of employed persons generally used to present information from the SEAS are:


    With some leave entitlements not working on a fixed-term contract

    With some leave entitlements working on a fixed-term contract

    Self-identified casuals

    Without leave entitlements who did not identify as casual

    Owner managers of incorporated enterprises

    Working on a contract basis

    Not working on a contract basis

    Owner managers of unincorporated enterprises

    Working on a contract basis

    Not working on a contract basis

    A detailed description of this framework is given in Appendix 1 of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 6361.0).

    The second framework is used to present information about superannuation. To present information about superannuation, people aged 15 to 69 are divided into two main categories:

    Working or intending to work, i.e. not retired

    Not working and not intending to work, i.e. retirees and those who have never worked and do not intend to work

    For those who have not retired, the focus is on how superannuation is being accrued for retirement, while for those who are not working and do not intend to work, the focus is on whether any income is being received from superannuation.

    The categories used to present information about superannuation are:

    Working or intending to work

    Has employer or business contributions only

    Has personal or spouse, and employer or business contributions

    Has personal or spouse contributions only

    Has superannuation, but no contributions currently being made

    Has no superannuation

    Not working and not intending to work

    Has received a lump sum or is receiving income from superannuation or annuities

    Has not received a lump sum and is not receiving income from superannuation or annuities

    Main outputs

    Most data from the Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation is available for persons aged 15 to 69. Data may also be compiled in relation to households, income units and families (where all members are aged 15 to 69). Some information about amounts being contributed to superannuation and amounts accrued in superannuation will be presented as medians. As this is the first time the survey has been conducted, the information is a snapshot and generally no time series data is available, although some data may be compared with similar data collected as part of different surveys.

    Data available from the survey includes:

    Employment arrangements:

    employment type (e.g. in own business, working on a fixed-term contract);

    access to paid leave;

    job duration and expected future job duration;

    the number of hours worked, and whether any hours were worked on weekends or at night;

    working arrangements such as multiple jobholding, shiftwork, and work done at home;


    whether covered by workers' compensation or income protection insurance;

    workplace illnesses and injuries;

    people's work preferences; and

    for those not currently working, some details of the last job held.


    the type of superannuation coverage that people had (eg employer, personal or spouse contributions);

    how much people were contributing to superannuation, and the amount of superannuation accrued;

    reasons for not making personal contributions to superannuation;

    the amount of any lump sums recently received from superannuation, and how the lump sum was used;

    whether people were receiving income from superannuation or annuities.

    socio-demographic information such as age, sex and relationship in household;

    education; and

    income, including income from sources other than employment.

    The main classifications used in the SEAS are:

    The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

    The Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO)

    The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)

    In addition, the SEAS largely conforms with other standard classifications as documented in Standards for Social, Labour and Demographic Variables.

    Other concepts (summary)

    Not applicable.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    The SEAS was not conducted in sparsely settled areas. This mainly affects estimates for the NT.

    See 6.1, above, for details.

    5 Yearly

    Frequency comments

    The Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation was conducted for the first time in 2000. It is proposed that a similar survey be conducted in 2005.


    The Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation was conducted for the first time in 2000. It is intended that future surveys will cover a similar range of data to monitor changes in the labour market and in individuals' superannuation arrangements.


    Data availability comments


    Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 6361.0) - released in March 2001, nine months after the end of enumeration of the household component of the survey in June 2000.

    State tables - released on Ausstats in May 2001.

    Superannuation: Coverage and Financial Characteristics (ABS Cat. No. 6360.0) - released in September 2001, eleven months after superannuation funds and administrators had finished providing supplementary data to ABS.

    20/09/2004 03:13 PM