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Data quality, concepts and methodology: Reasons for absence

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The LFS redesign in 1997 resulted in changes being made to the reasons for being away all or part of the week. This publication provides data incorporating both the pre- and post-redesign reasons. In this way, new data can be examined and a time series can be maintained for comparison purposes.

Before the 1997 redesign, the LFS grouped the reasons as follows:

illness or disability
working short time (part-week absence)
personal or family responsibilities
laid off during week
weather (part-week absence)
new job started during week
labour dispute
seasonal business (full-week absence)
holiday (part-week absence)

The first two reasons are referred to as absences from work for personal reasons. Persons absent because of illness or disability include those who missed work because of medical or dental appointments or other temporary health-related absences. Absence for personal or family responsibilities includes taking care of children, attending funerals, appearing in court, serving on a jury, and taking care of a sick family member. Longer absences, such as maternity leave, are also included.

After the redesign, reasons were changed to read:

own illness or disability
temporary layoff due to business conditions
caring for own children
holiday (legal or religious)
caring for elder relative (60 years or older)
maternity leave (women only)
job started or ended during week
other personal or family responsibilities
working short time (because of material shortages, plant maintenance or repair, for instance)
labour dispute (strike or lockout)

Illness or disability remain unchanged, whereas personal or family responsibilities now consist of caring for own children, caring for elder relative, and other personal or family responsibilities. Maternity leave is excluded from the estimates.

The elimination of maternity leave has led to an overall decline in women's work absence estimates for personal or family responsibilities.

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