Current guidelines

The 14th ICLS adopted the Resolution concerning the International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE), known as ICSE-93 .

This classification is a set of discrete values which can be assigned to the variable “type of contract which a persons has with other persons or organizations when performing a particular job” when that is measured in a statistical survey or registered in other administrative files. The “type of contract” for a job is determined by the type of economic risks and authority which are involved when carrying out the tasks and duties of the job. The ICSE-93 consists of the following groups

1. Employees, who get a basic remuneration not directly dependent the revenue of the employer - among whom countries may need and be able to distinguish "employees with stable contracts" (including "regular employees");

2. Employers, who hold self-employment jobs (i.e. whose remuneration depends directly on the (expectation of) profits derived from the goods and services produced) and engage one or more person to work for them as ‘employees’, on a continuous basis;

3. Own-account workers, who hold self-employment jobs and do not engage ‘employees’ on a continuous basis;

4. Members of producers' cooperatives, who hold self-employment jobs in a c-operative producing goods and services, where the members take part on an equal footing in making major decisions concerning the cooperative;

5. Contributing family workers, who hold self-employment jobs in an establishment operated by a related person, with a too limited degree of involvement in its operation to be considered a partner;

6. Workers not classifiable by status, for whom insufficient relevant information is available, and/or who cannot be included in any of the preceding categories.

Conceptual framework

The main variable for which the classification can be used is type of employment contract. The primary unit for this variable is a job, defined as “a set of task and duties (designed to be) performed by one person”. The rules for linking other units to these primary units say that there must be a defined relationship between these other units and the job. For example, for a person to be classified to a ‘status’ category s/he must have a link to a past, present or future job. Similarly an occupational accident can be classified to the status group of job which the person had at the time of the accident. The main similarity criterion used to construct the classification is whether or not the remuneration received depends totally on the (potential for) profits from the sales of the goods and services that are produced by the economic unit in which the job is located. If it does then this is considered to be a self-employment job, and if it does not, i.e. some of the remuneration is independent of the (potential for) profits, then this is considered to be a paid employment job:

Paid employment jobs are those jobs where the incumbents hold explicit (written or oral) employment contracts which give them a basic remuneration. This is not directly dependent upon the revenue of the enterprise for which they work. Persons in these jobs are typically remunerated by wages and salaries, but may be paid by commission from sales, by piece-rates, bonuses or in-kind payments.
Self-employment jobs
are those jobs where the remuneration is directly dependent upon the profits (or the potential for profits) derived from the goods or services produced (where own consumption is considered to be part of the profits). The incumbents make the operational decisions affecting the enterprises, or delegate such decision while retaining responsibility. (In this context "enterprise" includes one-person operations.)

The main similarity criteria employed in delineating subgroups of these two are the type of economic risks involved with the jobs and the type of authority that the job holders would have over the establishment and other employed persons:

Different types of paid employment jobs may be distinguished according to the duration of the contract and the type of security against its termination: It is e.g. recommended to distinguish employees with stable contracts from other ‘employees’ as a function of the extent to which they on a continuous basis have had a contract, or a series of contracts, with the same ‘employer’. It is also recommended to distinguish regular employees from other ‘employees with stable contracts’ on the basis of the extent to which these contracts oblige the ‘employer’ to pay regular social security contributions and/or are subject to national labour legislation.
Different types of self-employment jobs are distinguished according to the type of authority they will have over the productive unit which they represent or for which they work: Employers engage on a continuous basis one or more persons to work for them as ‘employee’. Own-account workers have the same authority over the economic unit as the ‘employers’, but do not engage ‘employees’ on a continuous basis. Members of producer cooperatives take part on equal footing with other members in determining the organization of production etc. Contributing family workers cannot be regarded as partners in the operation of the productive unit because of their degree of commitment to the operation of the unit, in terms of working time or other factors, is not at a level comparable to that of the head of the enterprise.

The main categories of ICSE-93 have been designed so that are mutually exclusive and exhaustive of all types of employment contracts, and the rules of application have to be such that to each unit for which the variable can be observed it will be possible to assign only one of these values. The structure of ICSE-93 is therefore flat. In reality, however, a number of situations may not easily fit into one category. ICSE-93 provides a listing of special sub-categories which may be important in particular countries and which can be regarded as ambiguous with respect to the basic distinction between paid employment and self-employment, either on the basis of the terms of the contract or from an analytical perspective. These special categories either form part of one of the main categories or represent borderline situations between two or more of these. Important among the latter are the owner-managers of incorporated enterprises who from a contract perspective are ‘employees’ but from a authority perspective can be seen as ‘employers’; and contractors, outworkers (homeworkers) and franchisees who from a contract perspective are ‘self-employed’ but from an authority perspective frequently may be seen as in a situation similar to ‘employees’. Important among the former are casual workers and seasonal workers.