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8175.0 - Counts of Australian Business Operators, 2011 to 2012 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2013   
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The conceptual framework used in Australia's Labour Force Statistics (LFS) aligns closely with the standards and guidelines set out in Resolutions of the International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of Australia's labour force statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001) which is available on the ABS website <> (Methods, Classifications, Concepts and Standards).

In addition to the LFS conceptual framework outlined above, the Forms of Employment Survey (FOES) uses an employment type conceptual framework, which classifies jobholders to an employment type category on the basis of their main job, that is, the job in which the most hours are usually worked. This framework allows data presented in Counts of Australian Business Operators (CABO) to be split between business operators and non-business operators.

This conceptual framework classifies jobholders to a 'Form of employment' on the basis of their main job, that is, the job in which they usually worked the most hours. The form of employment category groups are:

  • Employees;
  • Independent contractors; and
  • Other business operators.

Employees are then further classified according to whether they had paid leave entitlements, that is, whether they had paid sick and/or paid holiday leave.

Diagram 1: EMPLOYMENT TYPE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK, Reference Period November 2012
Diagram shows Employment Type Conceptual Framework, Reference period November 2012

Employees in the FOES are defined as people who work for a public or private employer and receive remuneration as wages or salaries. Employees are engaged under a contract of service (an employment contract) and take directions from their employer/supervisor/manager/foreman on how the work is performed. This definition of employees is different from that used in the monthly LFS and other ABS household surveys.

Independent contractors are defined as people who operate their own business and who are contracted to perform services for others without having the legal status of an employee, i.e. people who are engaged by a client, rather than an employer to undertake the work. Independent contractors are engaged under a contract for services (a commercial contract), whereas employees are engaged under a contract of service (an employment contract). Independent contractors' employment may take a variety of forms, for example, they may have a direct relationship with a client or they may work through an intermediary. Independent contractors may have employees, however they spend most of their time directly engaged with clients or on client tasks, rather than managing their staff.

Other business operators are defined as people who operate their own business, with or without employees, but who are not operating as independent contractors. Other business operators are distinguished from independent contractors in that they generally generate their income from managing their staff or from selling goods or services to the public, rather than providing a labour service directly to a client. Other business operators spend little time working on client tasks with most of their time spent on managing their employees and/or business.


The concepts, sources and methods underpinning the data presented in Section Two of this publication are guided by the conceptual framework used to support the Census of Population and Housing (Census).

The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS. The Census has two broad objectives. The first of these is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census night (9 August 2011) and the dwellings in which they live. The second is to provide timely, high quality and relevant data for small geographic areas and small population groups, to complement the rich but broad level data provided by ABS surveys.

The 2011 Census Form included questions which collected data on those Australians who operated a business, including a small business in the week before Census night. When matched with data derived from other questions on the 2011 Census Form, this allows ABS to produce business operators data for a range of characteristics.

The conceptual basis of the Census topics included in Section Two of this publication are discussed in further detail in The Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0). The Dictionary is a comprehensive reference guide designed to assist users of 2011 Census data to determine and specify their data requirements and to understand the concepts underlying Census data. The Dictionary also provides background information about classifications, a topic index, mnemonic index and data release index for ease of reference, as well as a section on Census data quality.

Table shows Employment type, number of employees and sex determine the population of business operators in CABO

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