6102.0.55.001 - Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, Feb 2018
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/02/2018
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This document was added or updated on 26/05/2020.
HOURS OF WORK
During such periods of availability as defined by hours worked, workers are expected to be ready to work if work is possible, requested or necessary. This general concept is made meaningful for the self-employed if it is taken to mean time when the self-employed are available to do their work, such as being at the disposal of clients, ready to receive purchase orders or available to make sales, etc. Further information is available in the ILO Resolution concerning the measurement of working time (Eighteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians, 2008).
HOURS USUALLY WORKED
Usual hours may differ from actual hours worked at a given time if employed persons are away from work due to illness, vacation, strike, a change of job or other reasons, or are at work for more hours than normal due to overtime, extra shifts, etc.
Figure 5.1: Usual Hours and Actual Hours Worked
When analysing usual hours worked, consideration should be given to appreciate the different perceptions respondents may have when reporting the typical hours they work. The ILO guidelines say that "the typical value may be the modal (most frequently occurring) value of the distribution of hours actually worked per short period over the long observation period, where meaningful". However, it is also possible that respondents average their actual hours worked over a long reference period to derive a typical value for the shorter period.
Measures of hours usually worked (in all jobs) are available from: the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and LFS supplementary surveys, such as Participation, Job Search and Mobility (PJSM) and Characteristics of Employment (COE). Measures of usual hours of work are not available from ABS business surveys, and are not collected in the Census of Population and Housing.
HOURS ACTUALLY WORKED
International resolutions relating to actual hours worked, adopted by the Eighteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in 2008, refer to wage and salaried employees. There are no international recommendations relating to actual hours worked for all categories of the employed population. However, the ILO in its manual 'Surveys of Economically Active Population, Employment, Unemployment and Underemployment' suggests that actual hours worked in a given job should be defined to cover all types of employment in labour force surveys. Hours actually worked is the time spent in a job for the performance of activities that contribute to the production of goods and services during a specified short or long reference period.
According to the ILO resolution, actual hours of work measured within the System of National Accounts production boundary includes all time spent directly on, and in relation to, productive activities, down time and resting time, such as:
The ILO suggests that for multiple job holders, actual hours worked should include the hours worked at all jobs.
ABS measures of actual hours of work are consistent with the international recommendations outlined above.
Measures of actual hours of work are available from a number of ABS household surveys: the LFS; various labour-related supplementary topics to the LFS; and various Special Social Surveys, including the Census of Population and Housing. Measures of actual hours of work are not available from ABS business surveys.
MONTHLY HOURS WORKED IN ALL JOBS
Monthly hours worked in all jobs is a measure of the total number of hours worked by employed persons in a calendar month. The methodology used to produce monthly hours worked in all jobs means that they are synthetic or modelled estimates.
Seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs estimates are produced by combining two series.
The first series is the seasonally adjusted actual hours worked in the reference week, adjusted for holiday timing. These estimates provide an indication of movements across months.
The second series is an annual benchmark series containing original estimates of actual hours worked in each financial year. The annual actual hours worked original estimates are calculated by determining the actual hours worked for each week of the financial year. As actual hours worked are only collected in respect of the reference week of the LFS, actual hours worked for weeks not covered by the LFS are imputed based on the actual hours worked for the reference weeks in the adjacent months. Amongst other things, the imputation accounts for the effect of public holidays on hours worked; that is, it accounts for holidays that occur in the reference week of the LFS, as well as holidays that occur in weeks other than the reference week.
Figure 5.2: Actual Hours and Monthly Hours
These two series are then combined to produce the seasonally adjusted monthly hours worked in all jobs series. A trend series is also subsequently produced. This approach ensures that:
Estimates of monthly hours worked in all jobs are available from the LFS. For more information on monthly hours worked in all jobs, refer to the Information Paper: Expansion of Hours Worked Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6290.0.55.001).
HOURS PAID FOR
Hours paid for applies to a paid-employment job and to a self-employment job paid on the basis of time units. For a paid-employment job, hours paid for is the time for which payment has been received from the employer (at normal or premium rates, in cash or in kind) during a specified short or long reference period, regardless of whether the hours were actually worked or not. Hours paid for:
Figure 5.3: Actual Hours Worked and Hours Paid For
As such, hours paid for will differ from the number of hours actually worked if an employee works more or less hours than their paid hours. Hours paid for will also differ from usual hours in some cases, for example if an employee performs long hours in some weeks to have rostered days or weeks off.
Measures of hours paid for are collected from business payroll records in the ABS business survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH). EEH also collects information on the following components:
Measures of average (mean) and median hours paid for and average hourly earnings are available from both EEH and COE.
NORMAL HOURS OF WORK
Normal hours of work is defined in a 2008 ICLS resolution as "the hours fixed by or in pursuance of laws or regulations, collective agreements or arbitral awards to be performed in specified paid-employment jobs over a specified reference period, such as per day, week, month or year (within the System of National Accounts production boundary). Normal hours of work may also apply to a job in self-employment when the hours are in accordance with the hours fixed for all jobs in a specific industry or occupation (such as for drivers to ensure public safety)".
Measures of normal hours of work are not produced by the ABS. However, the concept is used to assist in allocating respondents in the full-time/part-time status classification in ABS business surveys.
Labour Force Survey
The main source of hours worked data is the LFS. The list of hours worked data items from the LFS, and the publications they are contained in, are provided in the ABS publication Labour Force Survey Standard Products and Data Item Guide, Jun 2016 (cat. no. 6103.0). The following is a summary of the three main labour force releases:
LFS Supplementary Surveys
Hours worked data for specific populations are available in Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia (cat. no. 6226.0). A complete list of data items and populations for this survey is available from the Downloads tab for this publication.
The sole source of hours paid for from ABS household surveys is Characteristics of Employment (cat. no. 6333.0), previously Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership (cat. no. 6310.0). A complete list of data items and populations for this survey is available from the Downloads tab for this publication.
Other ABS Sources
Measures of hours paid for are collected from business payroll records in Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0). This survey provides statistics on the composition and distribution of employee earnings, hours paid for and methods used to set employees' pay in Australia.
The Census of Population and Housing has data on the number of hours worked by an employed person in all jobs during the week prior to Census night. Hours worked data are generally published in ranges, but are also available for individual numbers of hours worked.
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