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If you need help completing this survey, please call one of our team on 1800 196 206 during business hours. For help outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will return your call as soon as possible.
Purpose of the survey
The survey of Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) is conducted twice a year with businesses and organisations throughout Australia. Your participation in this survey provides figures essential for calculating Australia’s wages and salary statistics. These statistics are used in the measurement of Australia’s employee earnings and provide government and industry analysts with key economic indicators to inform decision making.
We acknowledge and value your time and effort participating in this survey. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.
Frequently asked questions
About this survey
How is the information from AWE used? Why is it important?
AWE is conducted every six months with businesses and organisations throughout Australia. The survey is designed to provide an accurate estimate of the current average value of wages and salaries paid to employees by an employer over a specified period. The data produced by the survey is used by a large number of users in both Commonwealth and State Government departments, employer associations and trade unions. Uses of the data include:
- to adjust payments specified in both State and Federal Government Legislation;
- in escalation clauses in business contracts;
- in economic and labour market analysis by both government and private organisations; and
- in representations in the award and wage case submission process.
Data produced by the survey is published twice a year in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia.
What kinds of questions are asked in AWE?
The questions in AWE ask about the number of employees, salary sacrificed earnings, gross weekly earnings, and overtime earnings for your business or organisation.
Number of employees
The number of employees is a count of all employees who received pay for any part of the last pay period ending on or before 19 May 2023. It excludes casual or seasonal employees who are on the payroll, but did not work during this pay period. Please report for all employees based in Australia on all payrolls for your business or organisation.
If you are the owner-operator or partner of an unincorporated business, do not record yourself as an employee. A full list of employees to be included/excluded is provided on the survey web form above questions 1 and 2 - Number of employees.
For the purposes of the survey, employees are separated into Full-time adults and All other employees, as outlined in the following paragraphs.
Q1 Full-time adults - Number of employees
- are paid at the adult rate for their occupation OR are 21 years or older (for example, employees who are 18 years of age but are paid at the adult rate are included as Full-time adult);
- usually work the agreed or award hours for a full-time employee in their occupation or, where agreed or award hours do not apply, usually work more than 35 hours per week;
- include casuals/temporary staff who usually work more than 35 hours per week.
Q2 All other employees - Number of employees
All other employees are those that are not full-time adults as defined above for Q1. All other employees include employees that are:
- under 21 years of age (juniors) AND are not paid at the adult rate;
- part-time or casual employees who usually work less than 35 hours per week. (Note: do not include casuals who did not work during the reference period.)
Weekly salary sacrificed earnings
Questions 3 and 4 collect the amount of weekly salary sacrificed earnings from pre-tax gross earnings, for the employees of this business as reported in questions 1 and 2. Salary sacrifice is defined as an arrangement where an employee agrees to forgo part of their pre-tax salary in return for benefits. Common types of salary sacrifice arrangements include pre-tax contributions to superannuation funds and novated leases for motor vehicles.
If amounts are for more than one week (for example, fortnightly or monthly payrolls), please report only one week's portion. Please include Fringe Benefits Tax incurred on benefits provided through a salary sacrifice arrangement, but exclude the value of fringe benefits (such as entertainment expenses) not provided through salary sacrifice arrangements.
For the purposes of the survey, salary sacrificed earnings are separated into Full-time adults and All other employees, as described under the Number of employees section above.
Q3 Full-time adults - Weekly salary sacrificed earnings
At Q3, please report the salary sacrificed earnings for all Full-time adult employees, as reported in Q1.
Q4 All other employees - Weekly salary sacrificed earnings
At Q4, please report the salary sacrificed earnings for all Other employees, as reported in Q2.
Taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime
Questions 5 and 6 collect the total taxable gross weekly earnings, before taxation and any other deductions have been made, for the employees of this business as reported in questions 1 and 2. It includes overtime (which is also requested separately in Q7) and penalty and shift payments, but excludes salary sacrificed earnings (please report this only in questions 3 and 4). If amounts are for more than one week (for example, fortnightly or monthly payrolls), please report only one week's portion. A full list of what is to be included/excluded is provided on the survey form in questions 5 and 6 - Taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime.
For the purposes of the survey, taxable gross weekly earnings are separated into Full-time adults and All other employees, as described under the Number of employees section above.
Q5 Full-time adults - Taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime
At Q5, please report the taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime, for all Full-time adult employees as reported in Q1.
Q6 All other employees - Taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime
At Q6, please report the taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime, for all Other employees as reported in Q2.
Weekly overtime earnings for full-time adult employees
Q7 Weekly overtime earnings for full-time adult employees
Q7 collects the amount of weekly overtime earnings for full-time adult employees as reported in Q1. Overtime earnings are defined as that part of taxable gross weekly earnings paid for hours worked in excess of award, ordinary or agreed hours of work. Overtime earnings are collected for full-time adults only and should represent one week's worth of overtime earnings only. If amounts are for more than one week (for example, fortnightly or monthly payrolls), please report only one week's portion.
Overtime earnings should also be included in Questions 5 and 6 - Taxable gross weekly earnings, including overtime.
Please include overtime paid at ordinary time rates and shift and penalty payments for overtime hours. Exclude shift and penalty payments for ordinary time hours worked.
What is the survey reference period?
The reference period for the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings is the last pay period ending on or before 19 May 2023. If the pay period reported for is longer than a week (for example, fortnightly or monthly payrolls), please include only one week's portion of earnings. If your organisation has more than one payroll, please report for all payrolls of the organisation as outlined on the address label at the beginning of the form.
Do we have to answer the questions?
Yes. The questions included in this survey are being asked under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905, which has provisions to make surveys compulsory. Under the Act, you are obliged to provide the information being requested. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential.
What types of businesses are included in AWE?
The Survey of Average Weekly Earnings collects data from the public and private sectors, from businesses of varying employment sizes and from all industries except those engaged primarily in agriculture, forestry or fishing.
All wage and salary earners who received pay for any part of the last pay period ending on or before 19 May 2023 are considered in scope of the survey, excluding:
- members of the Australian permanent defence forces;
- employees of enterprises primarily engaged in agriculture, forestry or fishing;
- employees of private households;
- employees of overseas embassies, consulates, etc.;
- employees based outside of Australia;
- employees on workers' compensation who are not paid through the payroll;
- casual employees who did not receive pay during the reference period;
- employees on leave without pay who did not receive pay during the reference period;
- employees on strike, or stood down without pay, who did not receive pay during the reference period;
- directors who are not paid a salary;
- proprietors/partners of unincorporated businesses;
- self-employed persons such as subcontractors, owner/drivers, consultants;
- persons paid solely by commission without a retainer; and
- employees paid solely under the Australian Government's Paid Parental Leave Scheme.
If you believe your business has been incorrectly included in the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings, please contact one of our team on 1800 196 206.
How was my business selected for AWE?
A sample of approximately 5,900 businesses is randomly selected on the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings. Selected businesses receive the survey questionnaire and represent other similar businesses in the same employment size range, broad industry, sector and state or territory. The sample is selected from the Australian Business Register which contains the names and addresses of all businesses that have registered an ABN with the Australian Taxation Office.
We are a small business or organisation. Should we be included in this survey?
The ABS considers the activities of small businesses or organisations to be as important as larger ones. Smaller businesses or organisations have specific characteristics and can be differently impacted by government policies and incentives. Small businesses or organisations cannot be excluded from participation in ABS surveys. Answering the AWE questions helps enable government and others to best design policies that support the range of businesses across the states and territories of Australia.
How long will we need to participate in this survey?
The length of time you will be on the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings generally depends upon the size of your business. Some larger businesses will remain on the survey on an ongoing basis because of their significance to the survey results. Smaller businesses will generally be included in the biannual survey for approximately three years (meaning they will be required to complete approximately seven biannual questionnaires). However, there can be some exceptions to this rule. For example, where a small business has a significant impact on the survey results, these businesses may also be included in the survey on an ongoing basis.
Larger businesses or organisations have a high chance of selection in multiple ABS business surveys.
Due to the large number of smaller businesses or organisations in Australia, they are generally not included in more than one survey at a time. However, there will always be some cases where inclusion in more than one survey cannot be avoided.
Where possible, we use data from existing administrative data sources to replace, or reduce direct data collection from smaller businesses.
Do we have to provide figures for this survey right now?
Yes. The industry, business and government users of AWE statistics need the most accurate and timely information possible so they can make well-informed decisions which impact Australian businesses and communities.
Can we be sure these figures are kept confidential?
Yes. We take the security of the information you provide to us very seriously. Your information remains strictly confidential to the ABS and is not shared with other agencies. We use the information you provide to calculate statistics which are released in ways that do not allow for the identification of businesses or organisations.
All ABS employees have signed a legally enforceable Undertaking of Fidelity and Security in which they agree to keep any information, including personal information which they may deal with in the course of their work, private and confidential. This agreement applies to ABS employees for the rest of their lives, even if they leave the ABS. The penalty for breaching this is two years jail, a $21,600 fine, or both.
Will we be paid for our time?
No. There is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse businesses or organisations for the cost of providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.
What if this business or organisation does not have any employees?
Some businesses operate without any employees (for example, businesses operated entirely by owners of unincorporated entities). In this case, please call one of our team on 1800 196 206 and we will assist you. To help us determine the correct course of action for your business or organisation, we will ask you a few questions, such as, is there is any intention for your business or organisation to employ anyone in the future?
What if this business or organisation did not operate during the reference period (e.g. seasonal business)?
If the business you are reporting for has ceased operating or did not operate during the reference period please call one of our team on 1800 196 206 and we will assist you.
We have already completed AWE this cycle and have received a reminder letter. What should we do?
If you have received a reminder letter about completing AWE, it is likely that you have returned the survey at the same time that we issued the reminder letter. If you wish to confirm this, please call one of our team on 1800 196 206 and we will check the information against our records.
How to complete this survey
How do we answer AWE?
To access your web form you will need to log in to your Survey Account at - www.abs.gov.au/survey. If you do not have a Survey Account you will need to create one using your email address and a password of your choice. This survey can then be added to your Survey Account by entering the Form Access Code that is included in your letter from the ABS. If you have misplaced your letter, please call 1800 196 206 to request your access code.
We're having trouble completing the survey online - where can we find help?
For more information on completing our surveys online, help is available on our Survey Account Help page. This page provides assistance with technical difficulties and includes frequently asked questions which assist in creating and using the ABS Survey Account.
If you need assistance in completing the web form, or have difficulties doing so on or soon after the reference date, an extension of time may be available. Please call 1800 196 206 and one of our team will be happy to assist you.
If you would like more general information about participating in one of our surveys, please see our Survey Participant Information page.
Using AWE statistics
How can this business or organisation use AWE statistics?
We provide statistics free of charge on our website. Statistics produced from AWE are published in Average Weekly Earnings, Australia.
Who can we contact for more information or to provide feedback?
You can call us on 1800 196 206 between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday. If you call us outside these hours, please leave a message with your contact details and we will return your call as soon as possible.
You can also use our online Business Surveys Contact Form to outline the details of your situation and we will be in touch.