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UNECE releases practical guidance on measuring quality of employment

Traditional employment statistics, such as unemployment rates and labour force participation rates, have long been produced by national statistics offices, but they provide only limited information about a country’s labour market situation. Policymakers, governments and researchers have increasingly called for more detailed data on the quality of employment in a country to complement these statistics. For instance, what is the share of workers who receive low wages or work long hours? How many employees are covered by unemployment insurance or health insurance? To what extent does child labour persist in the country? Questions such as these can only be answered by the systematic measurement of the quality of employment.

In order to assist statistical offices in meeting user demands, UNECE releases the Handbook on Measuring Quality of Employment, A Statistical Framework. The handbook offers a coherent structure for measuring quality of employment and provides practical guidance for compiling and interpreting a number of proposed indicators. It is meant to act as a statistical toolbox that may be applied flexibly, according to the different needs of countries that wish to analyse quality of employment.

Measuring quality of employment requires the consideration of different aspects of quality. The handbook identifies the seven key aspects – termed dimensions – as:  (1) Safety and ethics of employment, (2) Income and benefits from employment, (3) Working time and work-life balance, (4) Security of employment and social protection, (5) Social dialogue, (6) Skills development and training, and (7) Employment-related relationships and work motivation. For each dimension, the handbook presents a number of statistical indicators that may be produced and includes detailed indicator sheets, which provide definitions and guidelines for compiling and interpreting the indicators.

The handbook, developed under the aegis of the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians by an Expert Group comprising members from 14 countries and several international and non-governmental organizations, acknowledges other international efforts that have been undertaken in the area of measuring quality of employment. The ILO, Eurostat and the OECD contributed actively to the development of the handbook to ensure conceptual consistency with existing frameworks to the extent possible.

UNECE will promote the handbook and follow up on its implementation over the next few years, in collaboration with member countries. The handbook is available at:   http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=41346