Skip to content
GSS > Policy Store Items > Employment variables: number of employees and number of self-employed persons

Employment variables: number of employees and number of self-employed persons

The following guidance sets out how to collect and report statistics about employment variables to ensure statistics about this topic are as comparable as possible across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Definitions

This section provides definitions to use when collecting information about employment variables.

This variable represents  the  average  number  of  persons  who  were,  at  some  time  during  the reference period, employees of the statistical unit.

Further explanations to the definition

While the employment relationship, which qualifies the parties (into employee and employer), is defined in specific legislation or a contract, the term “employee” usually means a person hired to provide services on a regular basis, in exchange for benefits and where the services provided are not part of an independent business. An employee is anyone aged 16 years or over that an organisation directly pays from its payroll(s), in return for carrying out a full-time or part -time job or being on a training scheme. For the sake of clarity, apprentices, if hired under such conditions, are considered employees. (Directorate G: Global Business Statistics FRIBS TF/27 February 2014/Doc.02).

The average should be calculated as the arithmetic mean of the number of employees over the shortest time periods of equal length fitting into the reference period, for which regular observations are practicable (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). For ease of collection and reducing respondent burden it is recommended that businesses are asked to supply this variable for a specific date.

  • Note: The question wording outlined in the following section is the suggested ways to ask these questions.  To preserve harmonisation and minimise respondent burden we suggest that all question should have a harmonised style similar to that presented here, which includes the reporting date, the variable being collected and a reference to the business for which the data is being collected. It is also expected that variations in layout may be required based on the mode of collection.

There is no formal definition of part-time working although the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends that for international comparison ‘part-time’ should be defined as; “Part-time employment is defined as people in employment (whether employees or self-employed) who usually work less than 30 hours per week in their main job.”(OECD)

However, there are also a number of other definitions used, for example www.gov.uk/part-time-worker-rights define a part-time worker as; “someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker. There is no specific number of hours that makes someone full or part-time, but a full-time worker will usually work 35 hours or more a week.”

Office for National Statistics use the definition of part-time employment to be “30 hours or less” for the collection of Business Data and for Census 2011. The Business harmonisation Task and Finish Group has agreed that part-time should be defined as “30 hours or less” for the collection of business statistics.

The number of self-employed persons is the average number of persons who were at some time during the reference period the sole owners or joint owners of the statistical unit in which they work. Family workers and outworkers whose income is a function of the value of the outputs of the statistical unit are also included.

Further explanations to the definition

The average should be calculated as described in the further explanations to the definition of the variable Number of employees.

An outworker is a person who agrees to work for or to supply a certain quantity of goods or services to a particular statistical unit, by prior arrangement or contract with said statistical unit, but whose place of work is not within any of the establishments which make up that statistical unit. The statistical unit neither controls the time spent at work by an outworker, nor assumes responsibility for the conditions in which that work is carried out. (Directorate G: Global Business Statistics FRIBS TF/27 February 2014/Doc.02).

The  number  of  employees  and  self-employed  persons  is  the  sum  of  the  variables  “Number of employees” and “Number of self-employed persons”. This is the same as the “Number of persons employed”

  • Note: Number of persons employed = Number of employees + Number of self-employed persons

The number of employees is often used as a temporary approximation of the number of persons employed. However the distinction is important and when a business has a sizable proportion of working owners/proprietors or sole traders working in the business the variance between number of persons employed and number of employees can be significant.

This definition is consistent with the Short Term Statistics Definition of Variable: 210 “Number of persons employed” (Commission Regulation (EC) 1503/2006).

This variable can also be collected directly.

 

 

Questions

This section provides guidance on the survey questions to use when collecting information about employment variables.

On (Specific Date) what was the number of employees for the business?

Guidance to respondent

Guidance should be given to the respondent to enable them to supply the required data. Wherever practicable the guidance should be placed as close to the question as possible.

Include Exclude
all workers paid directly from this business's payroll(s) working owners who are not paid via PAYE.
those temporarily absent but still being paid, for example on maternity leave voluntary workers
voluntary workers
self-employed workers
agency workers paid directly from the agency payroll (to avoid confusion remove if the respondent is an employment agency)

The guidance to the respondent has primarily been derived from two European Commission Standards (Commission Regulation No 1503/2006 and Directorate G: Global Business Statistics FRIBS TF/27 February 2014/Doc.02) and current practice within Office for National Statistics

  • Note: The term ‘business’ in the question and guidance may be replaced by a more appropriate descriptions depending on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC 2007), for example if the respondent is a Registered Charity or Government Department, ‘organisation’ maybe a more appropriate term to use than ‘business’.

 

Question(s):  Number of Employees  with 30 hours or less / more than 30 hours per week split and male/female splits

On (Specific Date) what was the number of employees for the business?

What was the number of:

  1. Male employees working more than 30 hours per week?
  2. Male employees working 30 hours or less per week?
  3. Female employees working more than 30 hours per week?
  4. Female employees working 30 hours or less per week?
  5. Total Employees ?  (this should be the sum of (a) to (d) above)

On (Specific Date) what was the number of self – employed persons for the business?

Guidance to respondent

Guidance should be given to the respondent to enable them to supply the required data. Wherever practicable the guidance should be placed as close to the question as possible.

Include Exclude
partners, directors or working owners in this business who receive drawings and / or a share of profits, but are not paid via PAYE all employees paid directly from this business's payroll(s) including directors and working owners paid via PAYE.
unpaid family workers agency workers paid directly from the agency payroll
sole traders not paid via PAYE
sole proprietors not paid via PAYE
outworkers not paid via PAYE

On (Specific Date) what was the number of employees and self – employed persons for the business?

Guidance to respondent

Guidance should be given to the respondent to enable them to supply the required data. Wherever practicable the guidance should be placed as close to the question as possible.

Include Exclude
all employees paid directly from this business's payroll(s) including directors and working owners paid via PAYE agency workers paid directly from the agency payroll
partners, directors or working owners in this business who receive drawings and / or a share of profits, but are not paid via PAYE voluntary workers
those temporarily absent but still being paid, for example on maternity leave
unpaid family workers

 

 

Visual example/ layout of Number of Employees with 30 hours or less / more than 30 hours per week split and male/female splits

On 12 June 2015 what was the number of employees for the business?

An employee is anyone aged 16 years or over that an organisation directly pays from its payroll(s), in return for carrying out a full-time or part -time job or being on a training scheme

Include Exclude
all workers paid directly from this business's payroll(s) working owners who are not paid via PAYE
• those temporarily absent but still being paid, for example on maternity leave voluntary workers
former employees only receiving a pension
former employees only receiving a pension
subcontractors

 

What was the number of:

a. Male employees working more than 30 hours per week?……..

b. Male employees working 30 hours or less per week?………….

c. Female employees working more than 30 hours per week?….

d. Female employees working 30 hours or less per week?……….

e. Employees ?(this should be the sum of (a) to (d) above)……………

This document details 3 discrete employment variables;

  1. Number of Employees

1.1. Disaggregation of Number of Employees

  1. Number of self-employed persons
  2. Number of employees and self-employed persons (Number of persons employed)

Documents

File

Employment variables (PDF , 0.09MB)

Download