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Data quality, concepts and methodology: Definitions

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The population covered in this publication consists of full-time employees (30 hours or more per week) holding only one job.

Prior to the 1997 redesign, usual hours worked were the number of hours, paid or unpaid, usually worked by a full-time worker in a typical week. Beginning in 1997, usual hours refer to normal paid hours, not counting overtime. The effects of this change on absence rates are unclear.

For part-week absences, the respondent is asked to report the number of work hours missed; for full-week absences, hours missed are the usual hours worked. For workers with variable hours, the number of hours actually worked in the previous four weeks is averaged. Differences between this average and hours worked in the reference week attributable purely to work scheduling are not regarded as time lost or overtime.

Part-time workers, the self-employed and multiple jobholders are excluded from the data; definitions and reasons for the exclusion are as follows:

Part-time workers are employed persons who usually work less than 30 hours per week. Their work schedules generally provide them with more opportunity to attend to personal or family demands outside normal working hours than is the case for full-time workers. Also, events that would otherwise result in absences sometimes occur on days when the part-time worker is not scheduled to be at work. Not surprisingly, absence rates tend to be lower among part-time workers.

The self-employed includes all persons working for themselves in incorporated or unincorporated businesses, with or without paid help. Self-employed workers generally control their work schedules, so an 'absence from work' means something different for them than for employees. The same is true for unpaid workers in a family business.

Multiple jobholders are workers with two or more jobs. It is not possible using LFS data to link time they may have lost, or the reason for it, to a specific job. Also, since the LFS records an industry and occupation description only for the main job (the one involving the most hours per week), time lost cannot be accurately allocated to an industry or an occupation.

In 1997, the redesigned LFS split the personal or family responsibility work absence code into sub-categories, allowing maternity leave to be excluded. Women who have a full-time job but are on maternity leave have been excluded from Section A tables in this publication. Since these absences are mostly scheduled and long-term and affect only women, they have also been excluded from the post-redesign series in Section B.

Industry and occupation are based on the 2002 North American Industry Classification System and the 2001 National Occupational Classification for Statistics.

Workplace size refers to the number of employees at the location of employment. This may not reflect the total employment for firms operating in more than one location.

Job tenure refers to the number of consecutive months or years a person has worked for the current employer. The employee may have worked in one or more occupations or one location, or experienced periods of temporary layoff and still be considered to have continuous tenure if the employer has not changed. But if a person has worked for the same employer over different periods of time, job tenure measures the most recent period of uninterrupted work.

A permanent job is one that is expected to last as long as the employee wants it, given that business conditions permit. That is, there is no pre-determined termination date. A non-permanent job has a predetermined end date, or will end as soon as a specified project is completed. Included are jobs that are seasonal; temporary, term or contract, including work done through a temporary help agency; casual; and other temporary work.

Census metropolitan area (CMA) is an urbanized core with a total population of at least 100,000 together with its main labour market area (determined by commuting patterns). The CMA to which the job belongs is determined by the respondent's place of residence, not place of work.

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