Developmental activities

In 2003, the Seventeenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians urged the ILO to revise the current international guidelines on working time (see paragraphs 35 to 37 of the Final report of the 17th International Conference of Labour Statisticians )

Need for revision

The international guidelines on working time statistics need to be revised for a number of reasons. First, the current international definitions apply only to workers in paid employment and cover a short reference period of one week. But these are clearly insufficient in countries where self-employment is a significant form of employment. Also, estimates of the hours people work over a year are increasingly essential to reflect more fully the hours worked in an economy because they incorporate variations in part-time and part-year employment, in annual leave, overtime work as well as in flexible daily and weekly working schedules, which statistics of employment and weekly hours worked do not.

Second, current guidelines provide definitions for only two concepts of hours of work, but there is a need for definitions on topics which many countries are already measuring, such as usual hours of work, hours paid for, absence from work (including annual leave and maternity leave), and overtime work. Also, it is becoming essential to also have statistics on working time arrangements that reveal the diversity of working schedules that have emerged in many countries given the growing need for flexibility.

What will be revised

A revised resolution on working time statistics will contain:

  • A revised definition for hours actually worked during short as well as longer reference periods. The current international definition should be broadened to cover all persons in employment, including the self-employed and have clear guidelines on specific activities that are included and excluded.
  • New definitions for other working time concepts, including the hours usually worked, overtime hours, the hours of absence from work, and working time arrangements. Full worker coverage should be targeted.
  • A definition and estimation methodologies for annual hours of work and labour input that allows for alternative estimation procedures that take into account of variations in the type and range of national statistics of working time.
  • Guidelines on measurement methodologies, with clarifications regarding what each source of information is able to provide and its strengths and limitations, especially for the measurement of hours worked of the self employed, those in the informal economy and home-based workers.
  • Guidelines on the presentation of average and other statistics, to facilitate international comparability.

The revision process

It is expected that the Eighteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians will adopt a revised resolution on working time statistics. Prior to that, an ILO Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Labour Statistics will be convened to provide general guidelines. In preparation for this Meeting of Experts, the measurement of working time is being debated at the Paris City Group, which has already discussed this topic on three occasions and given valuable support to the ILO.