6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/05/2013   
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4.4.1 ABS measures of employment arrangements are collected from a number of sources, and include the following aspects:

  • Terms of engagement; including casual employment, contract work and labour hire work;
  • Job stability and flexibility measures;
  • Employment conditions and entitlements.


4.4.2 In household surveys, the ABS uses 'employees without paid leave entitlements' as the primary measure of casual employment. An employee is considered to be without leave entitlements if they do not identify as having access to either paid holiday or paid sick leave. The ABS also uses other statistical measures relating to casual employment, whether employees perceive their job to be casual, and some surveys collect information on whether a casual loading is received as part of pay. This information helps provide a more complete picture on casual status. Further information and comparison is contained in the feature article Measures of Casual Employment, published in Australian Labour Market Statistics, October 2008 (cat. no. 6105.0).

4.4.4 The classification used in ABS business surveys is different, classifying employee jobs as either permanent, fixed-term contract or casual, known as 'type of employee'. The classifications used in household and business surveys are discussed further below.

4.4.5 In business surveys, employers are asked to classify whether selected employees are employed under casual, fixed-term contract, or permanent arrangements. Casuals receive a loading or higher rate of pay to compensate for a lack of leave entitlements. Fixed-term contract jobs are those with an employment contract with a specified fixed time frame, while permanent jobs are those with ongoing tenure and access to paid leave.


4.4.6 Independent contractors are people who operate their own business and contract to perform services for others without having the legal status of an employee, i.e. people who are engaged by a client rather than an employer. Independent contractors are engaged under a contract for services (a commercial contract), whereas employees are engaged under a contract of service (an employment contract). See the Form of Employment classification in Chapter 4.1: Employment relationship classifications for more details.


4.4.7 A fixed-term contract is an employment contract which specifies that employment with the employer is not expected to continue beyond a particular date or event.


4.4.9 Instead of contacting employers directly, some people engage the services of a labour hire firm or employment agency to act as a third party to assist in finding suitable employment. Similarly, some businesses use the services of these firms to source labour rather than directly engaging workers.

4.4.10 Labour hire firms and employment agencies are engaged in personnel search, or selection and placement of people for an employing organisation. Such firms may either match employees and employers directly, or might provide labour through their own pool of employees.

4.4.11 Labour hire firms and employment agencies perform a number of functions in the labour market, including maintaining a pool of potential employees, matching a person directly with an appropriate employer and assisting employers to source suitable staff. They often also bear employee labour costs, such as wages, workers compensation and superannuation, which are transferred to employers through service fees.


4.4.12 Measures of job stability supplement measures of hours of work, full-time and part-time status, and other classifications of jobholders (such as status in employment), in order to further describe the nature of employment conditions. The ABS collects a range of data items related to job stability and flexibility. These include data on the variability of earnings and hours from week to week, whether an employed person has guaranteed minimum hours, whether required to be on call or standby, and whether most hours are worked between 7am and 7pm.

4.4.13 Job flexibility measures include whether employees has say in their start and finish times, choice in holiday timing, whether able to choose to work extra hours in order to take time off, or having an arrangement with one's employer to work from home.

4.4.14 Data on perceptions of working arrangements are also collected. These includes measures such as expectations about tenure (for example whether an employee expects to be able to be with their current employer in 12 months time) or whether a fixed-term contract is expected to be renewed.


4.4.15 Along with stability and flexibility measures, the nature of employment can be further characterised by other arrangements, and other entitlements received. Examples of these include whether usually compensated for overtime worked, or whether entitled to other forms of paid leave, such as maternity/paternity leave or long service leave. Depending on the employment relationship, other arrangements such as whether responsible for organising own worker's compensation or liability insurance, or whether the employer/business contributes to superannuation, are relevant.


4.4.16 Estimates on casual employment are available from a variety of sources, including:
    • The Forms of Employment Survey (FOES);
    • The Survey of Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership (EEBTUM);
    • Working Time Arrangements (WTA);
    • Multipurpose Household Surveys, including Retirement and Retirement Intentions, and Work-Related Injuries; and
    • Special Social Surveys.
4.4.17 Data about the receipt of a casual loading is available from WTA and the Special Social Survey, the Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS).

4.4.18 Data classifying employees of businesses as either permanent, fixed-term contract, or casual are available from the Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours.

4.4.19 The primary source of information on independent contractors and labour hire work is FOES. This survey also contains information on employees working on a fixed-term contract. The labour hire component is conducted every three years. For further information on FOES see Chapter 21.3.
4.4.20 Estimates on job flexibility and stability are available from many sources, including:
    • WTA, (this is the primary source for flexibility and stability measures, but is not conducted frequently);
    • FOES;
    • Locations of Work, which contains information on whether people work at home or on their employer's premises, and the arrangements of people who work from home;
    • SEARS.

4.4.21 For further information on the content and methodology of these surveys, see Chapter 21.16. and Chapter 21.8.

4.4.22 SEARS also collects detailed information about the employment and working arrangements of jobholders, along with information on superannuation, retirement intentions and arrangements, and child care arrangements. For further information on the content and methodology of the SEARS see Chapter 23.

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