By Indira Hirway*
The ILO Resolution on Statistics on Work, Employment and Labour Underutilization (19th ICLS), passed in 2013, aims to set new standards for work statistics to guide countries in updating and integrating their existing statistical programmes in the field. It defines statistical concept of work for reference purposes and provides operational concepts, definitions and guidelines for forms of work, labour force status and measures of labour underutilization.
“Work” is defined under this resolution as “any activity performed by persons of any sex and age to produce goods or to provide services for use by others or for own use”. This definition excludes those activities that do not satisfy the third person criterion (non-delegable activities) and activities that do not produce goods or services, such as, begging, theft etc. There are five distinguished forms of work:
- Own use production work, i.e. activities to produce goods and services for own final use by households,
- Employment work, i.e. activities to produce goods and services for pay or profit or for exchange / barter,
- Unpaid trainee work, i.e. activities to produce goods and services for others performed without pay in order to acquire work place experience on skills,
- Volunteer work, i.e. non-compulsory activities performed without pay to produce goods and services for others and,
- Other work activities, i.e. compulsory activities performed without pay to produce goods and services for others.
- It recognizes subsistence work, which is largely performed by women and unpaid domestic services, which is also are mainly performed by women in a country like India.
The different categories of work can be described as follows:
Persons in employment are defined as all those of working age who, during a short reference period (generally a week or 7 days), were engaged in any activity to produce goods or provide services for pay or profit.
They comprise of employed persons “at work”, i.e. who worked in a job for at least one hour during the reference period, and employed persons “not at work” due to temporary absence from a job, or to working-time arrangements (such as shift work, flexi time and compensatory leave for overtime).
“For pay or profit” refers to work done as part of a transaction in exchange for remuneration payable in the form of wages or salaries for time worked or work done, or in the form of profits derived from the goods and services produced through market transactions, specified in the most recent international statistical standards concerning employment-related income.
Employed persons on “temporary absence” during the short reference period refers to those who, having already worked in their present job, were “not at work” for a short duration but maintained a job attachment during their absence.
Employed persons include persons who work for pay or profit, which will also include the persons who work for pay or profit as well as workers on paid programmes for training or skills; apprentices, interns or trainees who work for pay in cash or in kind; persons who work for pay or profit through employment promotion programmes; persons who work in their own economic units to produce goods intended mainly for sale or barter; and persons with seasonal jobs during the off season if they continue to perform some tasks and duties of the job.
Women’s presence is limited in “employment” particularly in countries of the global south. This is because significant number of women is in subsistence work and in unpaid domestic services including unpaid care work. This also reflects clearly the inferior status of women in the labour market.
Own use production work
Own use production work refers to work that produces goods and work that provides services for own final use by households. These workers are defined as “all those of working age who, during a short reference period, performed any activity to produce goods or provide services for own final use”. An activity here is recognized as own production work if the total time spent on it is at least one hour during the reference period.
While own use production work that produces goods is included within 2008 production boundary (i.e. in national accounts), production of services for own use is not. Production of goods covers producing and/or processing for storage agricultural, fishing, hunting and gathering products; collecting and/or processing for storage mining and forestry products, including firewood and other fuels; fetching water from natural and other sources; manufacturing household goods (such as furniture, textiles, clothing, footwear, pottery or other durables, including boats and canoes) and building, or effecting major repairs to, one’s own dwelling, farm buildings, etc.
Own use production of services, which is outside the 2008 SNA production boundary but inside the General production boundary, covers unpaid household upkeep and unpaid care, mainly performed by women.
Household upkeep includes (1) household accounting and management, shopping for own household and providing transportation services to own household, (2) preparing and/or serving meals, household waste disposal and recycling, and (3) cleaning, decorating and maintaining one’s own dwelling or premises, durables and others goods, and gardening; and childcare and instruction, transporting and caring for elderly, dependent or other household members and domestic animals or pets, etc. Household unpaid care includes care of the child, old, sick and disabled of the household.
Subsistence foodstuff production is an mportant component of own household production of goods. It includes production of goods from agriculture, fishing, hunting or gathering that contribute to the livelihood of the household or family. Women in the countries of the global south are predominantly engaged in these activities. However it excludes work performed for recreational or leisure purpose (for example, fishing as a hobby). For operational purposes, an important test to verify the subsistence nature of the activity is that it is carried out without workers hired for pay or profit.
Unpaid Trainee Work
Unpaid trainee work is work that Produces Goods and Services for others without pay to acquire work place experience on skills. Persons in unpaid trainee work are is defined as all those of working age who, during a short reference period, performed any unpaid activity to produce goods or provide services for others, in order to acquire workplace experience or skills in a trade or profession. An activity here is recognized as unpaid trainee work if the total time spent on it is at least one hour during the reference period. Nevertheless, these workers may receive some form of support, such as education stipends or grants, or occasional in cash or in kind support (for example, a meal, drinks).
Unpaid trainee work includes persons in (1) traineeships, apprenticeships, internships or other types of programmes, when their engagement in the production process of the economic unit is unpaid; and (2) in unpaid skills training or retraining schemes within employment promotion programmes, when engaged in the production process of the economic unit. Unpaid workers learning skills in traditional trades and industries under household businesses can also be treated as unpaid trainees.
Voluntary work is performed for production of Goods and Services without Pay or Profit. Persons in volunteer work are defined as all those of working age who, during a short reference period, performed any unpaid, non-compulsory activity to produce goods or provide services for others. An activity is recognized as voluntary work if the total time spent on it is at least one hour in the short reference period. Volunteer workers may receive some small form of support or stipend in cash, when below one third of local market wages (for example, for out-of-pocket expenses or to cover living expenses incurred for the activity), or in kind (e.g. meals, transportation, symbolic gifts).
“Unpaid” is interpreted as the absence of remuneration in cash or in kind for work done or hours worked. Production “for others” refers to work performed through, or for organizations comprising market and non-market units (i.e. organization-based volunteering) including through or for self-help, mutual aid or community-based groups of which the volunteer is a member, and (2) for households other than the household of the volunteer worker of related family members (i.e. direct volunteering).
Organization-based voluntary work and production of goods for household-based voluntary work are included in the production boundary, to be counted in national income accounts, while production of services for household based voluntary work is excluded from the production boundary. Time use surveys have shown that the persons spending time on voluntary services in developing countries are not many, as compared to those in developed countries. This, as observed by experts, is due to the fact that help extended to neighbours and friends in developing countries is usually not reported as voluntary services.
Role of time use statistics
Time use surveys provide comprehensive and detailed information on how individuals spend their time on different activities, on a daily or weekly basis. Time use statistics are quantitative summaries of time allocation by men and women on different activities. These surveys thus can help in multiple ways in implementing some parts of the Resolution. Time use statistics are likely to improve the existing estimates of some categories of work and provide fresh estimates of the rest of the categories of work.
Government of India has not been able to initiate the process of implementation of the Resolution in India so far. It is however considering seriously doing so. The government conducted the first time use survey in 1998-99. Though the survey was pilot survey, it covered six major states in India that represented the major regions of the country. The survey was successful in the sense that it produced quality time use statistics, which were used by researchers in India and abroad. After about 20 years of the first time use survey, a second time use survey is being conducted at present. This time use survey covers the entire country. However, the second survey is not designed keeping in mind the implementation of the ILO Resolution.
*Director and professor of economics at the Centre for Development Alternatives (CFDA), Ahmedabad
These are excerpts from the paper “ILO Resolution on Statistics on Work, Employment and Labour Underutilization (19th ICLS) And Some Issues in its Implementation”.
Click HERE to read the full paper