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What changes in the new survey

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The new survey adopts the updates introduced by the European Regulation, which provides new criteria for identifying the household and the employed person.

To identify the household

For households with two or more persons, the criteria for identifying their members have been modified.

In the old survey the discriminating elements for identifying the de facto family were habitual cohabitation as well as the affective and/or family relationship linking the family members. In the new survey, cohabitation remains a fundamental requirement, to which is added the criterion of sharing income or household expenses (housekeeping): all people who are usually resident, whether related or not related to other members of the private household, are to be considered as members of a private multi-person household if they share household income or household expenses with other household members. Another difference concerning the criteria adopted in the past concerns persons living outside the family home for the purpose of work, who, in the new survey, are treated in the same way as tertiary students. For both, the usual residence remains the original one and not the temporary where they live for work or training, even if the absence lasts for more than a year.

Therefore, temporarily absent students and workers should be included in the household if they significantly continue to benefit from or contribute to the household income

To identify the employed condition

In the previous survey, an employee who had been absent for more than 3 months and maintained a salary of at least 50% (for example, those who had been laid off) was also considered employed. Similarly, the self-employed absent from work was considered employed only in the case of an activity that was temporarily suspended and not definitively concluded.

In the new survey, a worker who has been absent from work for more than three months is classified as a not employed except in the cases of:

  1. absence due to maternity, illness, vertical part-time, employer-paid training, parental leave if paid;
  2. the seasonal worker who reports during the closure period that he or she is performing activities related to maintaining, renewing, or carrying on business, such as equipment maintenance (excluding legal or administrative obligations and activities related to the payment of taxes).

The differences focus on three main aspects:

  1. workers in the Cassa integrazione guadagni (Cig) are not considered employed if the absence exceeds 3 months;
  2. workers on parental leave are classified as employed even if the absence exceeds 3 months and the remuneration is less than 50%;
  3. self-employed are not considered employed if the absence exceeds 3 months, even if the activity is only temporarily suspended due, for example, to a reduction of the activity.

In brief, the duration of absence from work (more or less than 3 months) becomes the predominant criterion for defining the condition of being employed.

Following these changes, the  employed operational definition is modified, while unemployed and inactive remain unchanged. Consequently, persons between the ages of 15 and 89 who fall into one of the following categories are considered to be employed:

  1. persons who, during the reference week, worked for at least one hour for pay or profit, including unpaid family workers;
  2. persons who, during the reference week, are temporarily absent from work because on vacation, on flexible hours (vertical part-time, recovery work hours, etc.), on sick leave, on mandatory maternity/paternity leave, or on employer-paid vocational training;
  3. persons on parental leave, who receive and/or are entitled to work-related income or benefits, regardless of the duration of the absence;
  4. seasonal workers who during the off-season continue to regularly perform tasks and duties necessary for the continuation of the business, excluding the fulfilment of legal or administrative obligations;
  5. persons temporarily absent for other reasons in all cases where the expected duration of absence is three months or less.

Volunteer workers, unpaid apprentices and persons involved in other forms of work and persons engaged in production for their own use, as defined in the 19th Resolution of the International Conference of Labor Statisticians (ICLS), adopted on October 11th, 2013, are not included among the employed.

Unemployed persons are those between the ages of 15 and 74 who:


  1. were not employed during the reference week, according to the definition of employment provided above;
  2. have been actively seeking work, i.e., have taken actions to search for paid employment or self-employment during the four-week period ending with the reference week or have found a job to begin within three months or less of the end of the reference week (including seasonal workers who plan to return to their jobs);
  3. are available to work before the end of the two weeks following the reference week.

To identify the active search for a job, the activities taken into account are: consulting, responding to or publishing job advertisements, inserting or updating CVs (including online), contacting potential employers, searching through friends, relatives or acquaintances, contacting publicor private  employment agency, undergoing a test, interview or examination as part of a recruitment process, preparing/applying for documents (permits, licenses, financing) or looking for/arranging land, premises, equipment for starting one’s own business.

Finally, all persons who are not classified as employed or unemployed according to and definitions above are considered inactive.

To comply with the changes introduced by the Regulations, a new questionnaire has been prepared in which some questions, including those necessary to detect the condition of employed and unemployed persons, are asked in a different sequence with respect to the old survey tool.

With the redesign’s occasion, the questionnaire was also revised both by optimizing the information that was already collected and by introducing new questions to meet current needs for information or to explore specific issues (for example, migration, hours worked and self-employment).

Overall, compared to the questionnaire used until 2020, 164 questions were confirmed, 89 were modified, 86 eliminated and 48 are new.




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