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Hours worked are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Estimates are available for total hours worked, average hours worked and usual hours worked. These LFS estimates include both paid and unpaid hours. Estimates of paid hours are measured by the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

Publications

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Northern Ireland)
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Earnings statistics for Northern Ireland Employees.
Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Northern Ireland)
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Earnings statistics for Northern Ireland Employees.
English Business Survey
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
The English Business Survey provides a high level view of business and economic conditions across the country over a range of backward and forward looking directional indicators including output, stocks, employment, labour costs, output prices, hours, capital investment and capacity constraints.
Hours worked in the labour market
Department: Office for National Statistics
How weekly hours have changed in the UK since 1992 by industry sector, how part-time employment has changed as a proportion of the total workforce and how average working time in the UK compares with other major EU countries. Finally it will compare ASHE paid hours with total hours on the LFS, including unpaid overtime.
Labour Market Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, claimant count, average earnings, labour productivity, vacancies and labour disputes statistics.
Labour Market Statistics Quarterly Supplement
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Labour Market Statistics Quarterly Supplement
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Local Area Labour Market
Department: Office for National Statistics
Presents a number of different indicators to give an overall picture of the labour market of local areas. Includes statistics relating to the employment, unemployment and benefit dependency of the resident population of the area; statistics relating to jobs and vacancies at workplaces in the area; and earnings statistics.
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).
Patterns of Pay
Department: Office for National Statistics
Analysis of trends in levels, distribution and make-up of earnings over time for UK employees by sex, full-/part-time status, public/private sector and region.
Regional labour market statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Official statistics on employment, unemployment, inactivity, jobs and the Claimant Count for regions, local authorities and parliamentary constituencies.
Self-employed workers in the UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
The characteristics of self-employed workers in April to June 2012. For example it looks at the hours worked, age and occupation of self-employed workers.
Statistics on Average Hours Worked, Wales
Department: Welsh Government
This bulletin provides statistics on the hours worked by employees in Wales. The analyses examine average hours worked by gender and major occupational group in Wales, and also paid and unpaid overtime and work patterns.
Underemployed Workers in the UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
This report examines the characteristics of workers who are underemployed, defined as those who want more hours in work.
Urban Rural Reports (Northern Ireland)
Department: Social Development (Northern Ireland)
Looks at data from the Family Resources Survey classified by urban/rural regions.
Women in Northern Ireland
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Statistics on women in Northern Ireland, labour market, childcare provision, earnings.
Women in Northern Ireland
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Statistics on women in Northern Ireland, labour market, childcare provision, earnings.

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Overview

Estimates of weekly hours of work, including paid and unpaid hours, for the UK are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Actual hours worked statistics measure how many hours were actually worked. These statistics are affected directly by changes in the number of people in employment and in the number of hours that people work.

The figures are seasonally adjusted to take account of calendar-related absences from work during the reference period such as public holidays and time off work for school holidays. The figures are also affected by other absences from work such as those due to sickness.

Average hours worked measure the average number of hours worked per week for all workers, for full-time workers, for part-time workers and for workers in second jobs.

Usual hours worked measure how many hours people usually work per week. Compared with actual hours worked, they are not affected by absences and so can provide a better measure of normal working patterns.

Estimates of hours worked are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

When conducting analysis of hours, there are three main elements to consider:

  • whether to use usual or actual hours worked

  • whether to include paid and unpaid overtime

  • whether to include hours worked in further jobs

Estimates are available by sex. Estimates of hours worked are also available for Government Office Regions (GORs). Regional estimates of hours worked are measured by the Annual Population Survey (APS).

Estimates of total actual hours worked for the UK are available from 1971. Other hours worked estimates are available from 1992.

Estimates of paid hours worked are measured by the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

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Technical Data

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)

ASHE is a survey sent to employers who supply data on paid hours worked relating to their employee's pay reference period. As a result, it does not contain information concerning unpaid hours worked.

Labour Force Survey (LFS)

LFS is the largest regular household survey in the UK. The survey covers people resident in private households, National Health Service (NHS) accommodation and student halls of residence. It does not cover other communal establishments. LFS interviews are conducted continuously throughout the year.

In any three-month period, a nationally representative sample of approximately 120,000 people aged 16 and over in around 50,000 households is interviewed. Each household is interviewed five times, at three monthly intervals. The initial interview is conducted face-to-face by an interviewer visiting the address, except for residences north of the Caledonian Canal in Scotland (where face-to-face-interviews would be prohibitively expensive). The other interviews are conducted by telephone wherever possible.

The survey asks a series of questions about respondents’ personal circumstances and their labour market activity. The survey is conducted in five ‘waves’  so that in any one quarter, one wave will be receiving their first interview, one wave their second, and so on, with one wave receiving their fifth and final interview. Therefore, there is an 80 per cent overlap in the samples for each successive quarter.

Seasonal Adjustment

Seasonal movements can occur in labour market data for a number of reasons including holidays and recruitment patterns. For example, a large number of people leave full-time education and enter the labour market in the summer. To make it easier to identify the underlying movements in the labour market, changes due solely to seasonal influences are removed from many series. This process is known as seasonal adjustment. LFS estimates are seasonally adjusted using the X-12 ARIMA package developed by Statistics Canada. The seasonal adjustment of LFS data is usually reviewed annually.

Sampling Variability

Survey estimates are prone to sampling variability. The easiest way to explain this is by example. In the April to June 2008 period, average weekly hours worked in the UK was estimated to be 31.9 according to the LFS (seasonally adjusted). These figures were published in August 2008.

If we drew another sample for the same period we could get a different result, which could be higher or lower. In theory, we could draw many samples and each would give a different result. The spread of these results leads to sampling variability. Once we know the sampling variability, we can calculate a range of values about the sample estimate that represents the expected variation with a given level of assurance. This is called a confidence interval.

For a 95 per cent confidence interval we expect that in 95 per cent of the samples, the confidence interval will contain the true value of average weekly hours that would have been obtained by surveying the entire population. For example, for April to June 2008, we can be 95 per cent confident that the true figure for average weekly hours was within 0.2 of the estimate of 31.9 (that is, within the range 31.7 to 32.1).

Sampling variability also affects changes over time. It is estimated that average weekly hours in the UK fell by 0.2 between January to March 2008 and April to June 2008 (seasonally adjusted). We can be 95 per cent confident that the true change lies in the range between a decrease of 0.4 and no change. 

In general, the larger the number of people in the sample, the smaller the variation between estimates. Estimates based on the LFS for the whole of the UK are therefore more accurate than those for smaller geographical areas. Indications of sampling variability for national and regional LFS data are given in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

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Glossary

  • Actual hours worked

    Statistics for actual weekly hours worked  measure how many hours were actually worked. These statistics are affected directly by changes in the number of people in employment and in the number of hours that individuals work. The figures are seasonally adjusted to take account of calendar-related absences from work during the reference period. Examples of such absences are public holidays and time off work for family or school holidays. The figures are also affected by other absences from work such as those due to sickness.

  • Annual Population Survey (APS)

    The Annual Population Survey is similar to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It started in January 2004 and is compiled by taking data from the four calendar quarters of the LFS and combining them with additional samples of interviews.

  • Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)

    The ASHE is a survey of employees completed by employers, who supply data on paid hours worked, relating to an employee's pay reference period. As a result, it does not contain information concerning unpaid hours worked. The ASHE contains information on all jobs held by employees in the sample.

  • Labour Force Survey (LFS)

    The main source for information on the labour market in the UK. It is a random household survey of approximately 50,000 households every three months conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As well as private households, the survey includes people living in student halls of residence and National Health Service (NHS) accommodation.

  • Usual hours worked

    Statistics for usual hours worked measure how many hours people usually work per week. Compared with actual hours worked, they are not affected by absences and so can provide a better measure of normal working patterns.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Labour Market Statistics Team

Email: labour.market@ons.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1633 455839

Labour Market Statistics Team Office for National Statistics Government Buildings Cardiff Road Newport NP10 8XG

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