The existing release calendar will soon be replaced by a new release calendar on GOV.UK.

Skip to content

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces two outputs related to Public Sector Personnel. They are the Public Sector Employment Statistical Bulletin, which is published four times a year and Civil Service Statistics Statistical Bulletin, which is an annual publication.

Publications

Analysis of Sickness Absence in Northern Ireland Departments
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Statistics on sickness absence levels in Northern Ireland Departments.
Analysis of Sickness Absence in Northern Ireland Departments - Headline Results
Department: Finance and Personnel (Northern Ireland)
Statistics on sickness absence levels in Northern Ireland Departments.
Civil Service Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Presents Civil Service employment statistics, compiled from the Annual Civil Service Employment Survey. These annual statistics provide regional analyses, diversity and earnings statistics for the Civil Service population.
Continuous Household Survey Bulletin
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
The Bulletin provides summary information as well as some trend data from previous years. It includes information on - smoking, household composition, debt, internet access, health, sport and leisure, environmental issues, mobile phones and job applications.
Employment in the Northern Ireland Civil Service
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
A snapshot of the number of staff in the Service (headcount and full-time equivalent) with accompanying trend data.
Equality Statistics for the Northern Ireland Civil Service
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
An overview of diversity and equality in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. The report provides an analysis of the composition of, and the flows into and out of, the Service.
Local Authority Social Services Staffing, Wales
Department: Welsh Government
Provides statistics on the staff of local social services departments.
Local Authority Social Work Services Staffing Survey, Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
Summarises census of staff in Social Work - demographics, experience and qualifications plus level of vacancies.
Personnel Statistics for Northern Ireland Departments
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Human resource profile of the eleven Northern Ireland Departments.
Personnel Statistics for the Northern Ireland Civil Service
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Human resource profile of the Northern Ireland Civil Service. The title of this publication was changed in 2011 from 'Personnel Statistics for Northern Ireland Departments', following extension of coverage to include Northern Ireland Civil Service staff in bodies other than Government Departments.
Public Sector Employment
Department: Office for National Statistics
This release contains detailed public sector employment estimates, updated quarterly. For most sources that contribute to these statistics, the employment is reported for a specific date in the quarter. The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts. Public sector employment estimates are provided on a headcount and full-time equivalent basis by sector and industry. Regional headcounts are also provided.
Public Sector Employment in Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
Data on public sector employment and the estimated split of public and private sector employment in Scotland.
Public and Private Sector Earnings
Department: Office for National Statistics
This analysis looks at differences in average hourly earnings in the public and private sector from 2002-2010 using regression analysis, and considers the difficulties in making comparisons due to the differences between the two sectors
Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Statistics on sickness absence levels in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
Sub-regional public and private sector employee job estimates
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
The preferred souce of public sector employment data is the ONS National Statistics of Public Sector Employment. This provides employment estimates at national and regional level based on public sector returns and is available from the ONS website. Where data is required for GB below regional level these Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) employee jobs estimates can be used. This data provides estimates of the level of public and private sector employee jobs by Local Authority and Travel to Work area

Back to the top

Overview

Public Sector Employment (PSE) statistics are derived from a range of sources. The primary source is the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES). The QPSES comprises three separate data collections. They are sourced from:

  • the Civil Service (not including the Northern Ireland Civil Service and other Crown servants)

  • local governments in England and Wales, and

  • public corporations and non-departmental public bodies in Great Britain

The QPSES aims to achieve a complete census of the relevant sectors and provide information four times a year. This is known as quarterly statistics.

Further information is gathered from external sources so that total estimates can be derived for public sector employment, such as the Home Office (police workforce estimates).

Detailed Civil Service statistics (published as Civil Service Statistics Statistical Bulletin), are sourced from the Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES). The survey collects information on every individual employee relating to:

  • gender

  • ethnic origin

  • disability status

  • age

  • national identity

  • earnings

The individual’s profession and regional distribution are also taken into account.

The employee numbers supplied for both the Public Sector Employment Statistical Bulletin and Civil Service Statistics Statistical Bulletin should match up for the same reference data. The quarterly statistics are seen as the official source of Civil Service employment.

Back to the top

Technical Data

Quarterly Estimates

As part of the development programme to improve the quality of public sector employment estimates, government departments are working towards the production of timely quarterly estimates. Until this development programme is completed, there is a requirement to include estimates for certain sources:

  • NHS workforce statistics for England and Scotland are currently published annually for the year ending 30 September by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care (IC) and the Scottish Government

  • police workforce estimates for England and Wales are published every six months by the Home Office

Known Discrepancies

Estimates of public sector employment in Education differ from the school workforce estimates published by the Department for Education (DfE) mainly as a result of differences in coverage and data sources.

DfE estimates focus on the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) teachers and support staff in the maintained school sector for England only. By comparison, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates are derived by allocating local authority employees to Education using the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) and the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES) in England and Wales.

Employment in Education in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also included to give a wider UK coverage. For further information on the differences between DfE and ONS data on Education please see the article Public Sector Employment Trends 2005.

ONS estimates for the NHS also differ from the headline figure produced by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care (IC). Again, this reflects the wider UK coverage (IC figures are for England only) plus the exclusion by ONS of general practitioners (GPs). ONS, in accordance with National Accounts practice, classifies GPs as part of the private sector.

ONS also includes hospital practitioners and clinical assistants who work in hospitals on a salaried pay scale but generally work as GPs (as ONS do not include GPs as part of their estimates these individuals are not double-counted). The IC do not include these individuals from their counts to avoid double counting (because of the fact that they include GPs in their estimates). When these factors are allowed for, ONS and NHS data are shown to be identical. 
 

Time series

Consistent time series are available from the National Statistics website back to 1999 (seasonally adjusted) and back to 1991 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. For earlier estimates, users should consult the article Jobs in the Public Sector mid-2003 from Labour Market Trends (vol 112, no 7).

Civil Service Statistics Statistical Bulletin

Response rates

All government departments and agencies responded to the survey for the year ending 30 September 2007.

Missing values

Departments are not always able to provide complete information for every collected variable. Users should consider the scale of the under-coverage when interpreting the statistics.

Indicators of under-coverage (permanent employees only):

  • age – 0.1 per cent

  • disability status – 28.5 per cent

  • ethnic origin – 21.3 per cent

  • gross annual salary – 1.3 per cent

  • profession – 25.3 per cent

Quality Measures

A key measure of quality is the reconciliation between the Public Sector Employment Statistical Bulletin and Civil Service Statistics Statistical Bulletin. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) work with departments to minimise any differences, but they will never be fully resolved (0.2 per cent difference).

The quarterly survey is published 11 to 12 weeks after the end of the reference period. As only summary statistics are required, data can often be sourced by departments directly from payroll systems. The timeliness of the survey also means that HR systems continue to be updated after the snapshot date. This live updating of systems means there is always the possibility of differences arising before the more comprehensive annual collection is completed.

Back to the top

Glossary

  • Central government

    Central government includes all administrative departments of government and other central agencies and non-departmental public bodies. This sector also includes HM Forces and the National Health Service. Within education, Academies are also classified to central government. From 1 April 2005, central government includes the former Magistrates' Courts Service which has been brought together with the Court Service to form Her Majesty's Courts Service. The Magistrates' Courts Service was previously classified to local government.

  • Civil service

    Estimates of Civil Service employees count all home Civil Service employees. As such, Civil Service estimates do not include the Northern Ireland Civil Service and other Crown servants.

  • Diversity statistics

    Statistics are published on the gender, ethnic origin, disability status and age of the Civil Service workforce. All diversity statistics relate to civil servants counted on a head count basis. Employees declared as disabled are presented as a percentage of known disability status. Those who have either not responded or actively chosen not to declare their status are not included in the calculation. The same applies when calculating the percentage of civil servants from an ethnic background.

  • Entrants and leavers

    Entrants and leavers are employees entering or leaving the Civil Service in the 12 months preceding the survey. The figures do not include transfers and loans between departments. Employees leaving on the survey reference date are counted as both staff in post and leavers.

  • Full-time

    Full-time employees are those who are contracted to work 37 hours per week (36 in London).

  • Full-time equivalents (FTEs)

    Full-time equivalents are based on converting part-time employees’ hours into a full-time employees’ equivalent. This method provides a better indicator of total labour input than a simple head count.

  • Gross salary

    Gross salary is the annual salary inclusive of basic pay and pay-related allowances such as regional and skills allowances. It also includes consolidated performance pay. It does not include bonuses. Headline earning statistics are based on the median rather than the mean. The median is the value below which 50 per cent of employees fall, and is the preferred method for calculating average income because it is less influenced by extreme values than the mean.

  • Head count

    Estimates are based on the number of employees with an employment contract who are being paid by the organisation. Employees can be permanent, on a fixed-term contract or employed on a casual basis. Employees not on the payroll and not being paid during the reference period are not included. For example, those on unpaid maternity leave, unpaid sick absence and career breaks.

  • Local government

    Local government covers types of public administration that only cover a locality and any bodies controlled and mainly financed by them. The subsector includes all areas of administrative authorities including parish councils. It includes police forces and their civilian staff. All functions of local authorities are classified to the subsector. However, trading activities that produce market output (such as housing) are regarded as quasi-corporations and appear under public corporations. Local education authorities are part of local government, as are voluntary aided schools, county schools and foundation schools.

  • Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB)

    A Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury and Scottish Government to certain types of public bodies. NDPB’s carry out their work at arm's length from ministers, although ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.

  • Non-response

    A form of non-observation present in most surveys. Non-response means failure to obtain a measurement on one or more study variables for one or more elements of the survey. The term encompasses a wide variety of reasons for non-observation: ‘impossible to contact’, ‘unable to answer’, ‘refusal’ and others.

  • Part-time

    Part-time employees are those who work less than the usual full-time contracted hours of 37 hours per week (36 in London).

  • Permanent and casual employees

    Permanent employees are those with a contract that has no agreed expiry date or a fixed-term contract of more than 12 months. Temporary employees are those with a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less or those employed on a casual basis. Casual employees must be paid through the departments’ payroll. Employees hired through agencies are not included.

  • Profession

    The profession of a civil servant relates to the post occupied by the person and do not depend on any qualifications the individual may have.

  • Public corporations

    Public corporations are companies or quasi-corporations controlled by government. Examples include British Nuclear Fuels plc and Royal Mail. These companies receive more than half their income from sales of goods or services into the market place.

  • Public sector

    The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations as defined for the UK National Accounts. The Sector Classifications Guide (MA23) provides information on the classification of organisations and institutions in the National Accounts.

  • Quasi-organisations

    Executive agencies (quasi-organisations) charged with service delivery functions have arisen alongside so-called non-departmental public bodies. These agencies do not usually have a legal identity separate from that of their parent department. Unless they have trading fund status, their accounts form part of the accounts of the parent department.

  • Regions

    There are nine official English Government Office Regions (GORs). They are: North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East and South West. Wales and Scotland are considered as regions in their own right. Regional statistics are presented at Government Office for the Regions level.

  • Responsibility levels

    Since 1 April 1996, all departments and agencies have had delegated responsibility for the pay and grading of their employees, except for those in the Senior Civil Service (SCS). The concept of broad ‘responsibility levels’ is used by the Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES). Departmental grades are assigned to levels broadly equivalent to the former service-wide grades.

  • Under-coverage

    Under-coverage refers to units not included in the frame, but which should be. For these units, no information is obtained. Under-coverage should not be confused with non-response.

Back to the top

Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Employment Earnings and Innovation

Email: cssurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1633 456756

Employment Earnings and Innovation Office for National Statistics Cardiff Road Newport South Wales NP10 8XG

Back to the top