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Technical Note

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Technical Information - Impact of the IESS Framework Regulation

A new framework regulation governing the production of European Statistics on persons and households (Integration European Social Statistics Framework Regulation – IESS FR) came into force on 01 January 2021. The IESS FR covers various domains of social statistics including labour market statistics. It aims to ensure that social statistics based on sample surveys, e.g. the Labour Force Survey (LFS), are produced in a more harmonised and coordinated manner across Europe.

The IESS FR also establishes guidance on:

  • Definitions
  • Statistical populations and observation units
  • Domains
  • Topics and detailed topics
  • Sampling bases
  • Sample characteristics
  • Accuracy criteria
  • Periodicity
  • Data transmission (contents and deadlines)
  • Quality reports

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had to introduce changes to the LFS questionnaire in Ireland from Quarter 1 (Q1) 2021 because of the IESS regulation. These include changes to LFS variables collected by the LFS questionnaire with some new questions added, while some questions have been removed, and others have changed in terms of response options or frequency. There have also been some changes to the order of the questions as the flow of the LFS questionnaire across Europe is now more prescribed and harmonised under the IESS FR. The LFS questionnaires for Ireland for Q1 2021 and previous quarters are available here: Labour Force Survey.

The changes to the LFS due to the IESS FR in Ireland were expected to be minor and not cause any significant break in series. This is because many of the changes required have already been implemented by the CSO during the transition from the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) to the LFS in 2017.

While the impact of the changes envisaged under the IESS FR were expected to be minimal for Ireland, the CSO still implemented a pilot survey to evaluate what impact the IESS FR would have on results from the LFS. This allowed the CSO to deal with breaks in series that might be caused due to IESS FR by creating a consistent, coherent and break free LFS series. This pilot survey was initially planned to be conducted early in 2020 but had to be postponed due to COVID-19 and the inability of CSO interviewers to carry out face-to-face interviews from March 2020 to April 2021. The plans for the IESS pilot survey had to be amended due to the impact of Government restrictions in place during 2020 in Ireland, and the revised IESS pilot survey was rescheduled and carried out via telephone interviewing in Q4 2020.

Separate to the pilot survey, the CSO have been working with Eurostat to re-engineer the already published LFS series in Ireland to reflect what the series would look like if they were collected under the IESS regulation. As outlined above, the expectation was that the changes due to the IESS FR would be minimal for the LFS in Ireland and based on current analysis of the pilot survey data and the re-engineering of the historic series, that expectation has been realised.

One of the main changes for the LFS due to the IESS FR in Ireland is the way in which the labour market status of those who are Away from work (e.g. holidays, illness, layoff, off season etc.) in the reference period are classified. The rules regarding attachment to the employment for those 'Away from work' in the reference week have changed. Up to Q4 2020, the attachment (absence duration of at most three months and/or continued receipt of at least half of their salary from their employer) was only being tested for those who indicated that they were 'Away from work' because of 'Temporary lay-off'. All other reasons for absence from work in the reference week were being automatically classified as 'Employed'. From Q1 2021, the rules regarding attachment have been extended to include testing for duration of at most three months for persons who are ‘Away from Work ‘ when interviewed because of off season and other reasons. In addition, persons ‘Away from Work’ on parental leave are being tested for duration of at most three months and whether they receive any work-related income.

The CSO applied this change under the IESS regulation retrospectively to the LFS series up to Q4 2020. This was done by including additional reasons for absences when testing the attachment to a job for those who were 'Away from work' in the reference week to determine their labour market status. This has allowed the CSO to evaluate the impact of this change under the IESS FR and re-engineer the historic series to account for the change. Other changes such as recoding of existing variables to reflect the changes under the IESS regulation were also included as part of this re-engineering process on the full historic LFS series. Please see the Information Note published by the CSO on 03 June 2021 for more information on the IESS FR.

In the graphs below, the “Pre-IESS” series are those published for the Q4 2020 LFS release on 25 February 2021 while the “Post-IESS” series are those as published with the LFS for Q1 2021 today which have been re-engineered up to Q4 2020 to take account of how absences from employment are being treated under IESS.

As the following graphs show, the changes applied to date have had a minimal effect for most of the historic LFS series from 1998 through to 2019. This is largely because the numbers 'Away from work' in the reference week tended to be relatively low in most quarters up to 2019. However, in 2020, because of the impact of COVID-19 and Government restrictions, the numbers who reported being 'Away from work' in the reference week, increased substantially and, thus, the attachment to employment is being tested for more persons rather than being assumed for them. The net effect is that, under the IESS FR, there are fewer persons 'Away from work' in the reference week being classified as 'Employed', which reduces the total number of employed persons during 2020 but has a minimal impact on results prior to 2020.



Q1 200218253001825300
Q2 200218403001840300
Q3 200218836001883600
Q4 200218503001850300
Q1 200318557001855700
Q2 200318740001874000
Q3 200319129001912900
Q4 200318995001899500
Q1 200419024001902400
Q2 200419259001925900
Q3 200419842001984200
Q4 200419738001973800
Q1 200519897001989700
Q2 200520181002018100
Q3 200520735002073500
Q4 200520701002070100
Q1 200620831002083100
Q2 200621105002110500
Q3 200621596002159600
Q4 200621676002167600
Q1 200721869002186900
Q2 200722134002213400
Q3 200722522002252200
Q4 200722329002232900
Q1 200822195002219500
Q2 200822201002220100
Q3 200822098002209400
Q4 200821466002145600
Q1 200920541002054500
Q2 200920293002028600
Q3 200920068002006200
Q4 200919704001970600
Q1 201019360001934600
Q2 201019380001936500
Q3 201019306001930300
Q4 201018977001896600
Q1 201118804001878100
Q2 201119001001899600
Q3 201118852001885700
Q4 201118882001886400
Q1 201218632001862600
Q2 201218780001876800
Q3 201218870001888500
Q4 201218936001892900
Q1 201318920001893200
Q2 201319263001924200
Q3 201319618001962000
Q4 201319710001969600
Q1 201419507001950800
Q2 201419703001968900
Q3 201420089002009400
Q4 201420252002025000
Q1 201520144002012400
Q2 201520497002047700
Q3 201520799002078600
Q4 201520854002083900
Q1 201620808002079000
Q2 201621267002124400
Q3 201621580002158400
Q4 201621635002162000
Q1 201721584002157100
Q2 201721809002178200
Q3 201722065002204200
Q4 201722308002226000
Q1 201822207002214700
Q2 201822550002249700
Q3 201822732002268900
Q4 201822813002276500
Q1 201923019002298300
Q2 201923000002296200
Q3 201923269002323400
Q4 201923612002357300
Q1 202023535002347200
Q2 202022225002138100
Q3 202022952002250000
Q4 202023062002276800
Q1 2021-2230600

Figure 8.1 compares the pre-IESS and post-IESS estimates of the number of persons in employment. The impact of IESS on the series up to 2019 is very minimal but the impact of the high number of absences from work and the new attachment rules has reduced employment levels in 2020.

Q1 200267.767.7
Q2 200267.967.9
Q3 200269.269.2
Q4 200267.667.6
Q1 200367.567.5
Q2 200367.967.9
Q3 20036969
Q4 200368.168.1
Q1 20046868
Q2 200468.668.6
Q3 200470.270.2
Q4 200469.369.3
Q1 200569.569.5
Q2 200570.170.1
Q3 200571.471.4
Q4 200570.670.6
Q1 200670.670.6
Q2 200671.171.1
Q3 200671.971.9
Q4 200671.471.4
Q1 200771.471.4
Q2 200771.771.7
Q3 200772.572.5
Q4 200771.371.3
Q1 200870.670.6
Q2 200870.370.3
Q3 200869.969.9
Q4 200867.867.8
Q1 200964.964.9
Q2 20096463.9
Q3 200963.463.4
Q4 200962.362.3
Q1 201061.261.1
Q2 201061.461.3
Q3 201061.261.2
Q4 201060.260.2
Q1 201159.659.6
Q2 201160.460.4
Q3 20116060
Q4 201160.160.1
Q1 201259.359.3
Q2 201259.859.8
Q3 201260.260.2
Q4 201260.360.3
Q1 201360.360.4
Q2 201361.461.4
Q3 201362.562.5
Q4 201362.762.7
Q1 20146262
Q2 201462.662.5
Q3 201463.863.8
Q4 201464.264.2
Q1 201563.763.6
Q2 201564.664.5
Q3 201565.365.3
Q4 201565.565.4
Q1 201665.165.1
Q2 201666.366.3
Q3 201667.267.2
Q4 201667.167.1
Q1 201766.966.9
Q2 201767.467.4
Q3 20176867.9
Q4 201768.368.1
Q1 201867.967.7
Q2 201868.568.4
Q3 201869.168.9
Q4 201869.168.9
Q1 201969.369.2
Q2 201969.169
Q3 201969.669.5
Q4 201970.270.1
Q1 202069.869.6
Q2 202065.763.2
Q3 202067.766.4
Q4 202067.867
Q1 2021-65.6

Figure 8.2 compares the pre-IESS and post-IESS employment rate estimates and the differentials in 2020 highlight the reduction in employment estimates due to the new attachment rules.

Q1 20028570085700
Q2 20029180091800
Q3 20029120091200
Q4 20029720097200
Q1 20039320093200
Q2 20039670096700
Q3 2003103900103900
Q4 20038930089300
Q1 2004101800101800
Q2 20049700097000
Q3 20049660096600
Q4 20049090090900
Q1 20059120091200
Q2 2005106300106300
Q3 2005106000106000
Q4 20059190091900
Q1 2006101500101500
Q2 2006108700108700
Q3 2006116800116800
Q4 20069830098300
Q1 2007111200111200
Q2 2007120100120100
Q3 2007119700119700
Q4 2007114700114700
Q1 2008124400124400
Q2 2008144500144500
Q3 2008180900180900
Q4 2008189400189400
Q1 2009247600247600
Q2 2009299400299400
Q3 2009315100315100
Q4 2009300900300900
Q1 2010306200306200
Q2 2010331000331000
Q3 2010336800336800
Q4 2010335700335700
Q1 2011331100331100
Q2 2011342600342600
Q3 2011356200356200
Q4 2011340100340100
Q1 2012348100348100
Q2 2012352700352200
Q3 2012354300354300
Q4 2012319500319400
Q1 2013317200316900
Q2 2013329900329500
Q3 2013310100309800
Q4 2013276800276300
Q1 2014282200282000
Q2 2014279800279400
Q3 2014272800272200
Q4 2014235300234900
Q1 2015235200234000
Q2 2015235800234100
Q3 2015227100226000
Q4 2015206800206500
Q1 2016199300199000
Q2 2016211500211300
Q3 2016201100200500
Q4 2016167600167400
Q1 2017163400163100
Q2 2017160500160300
Q3 2017163500163400
Q4 2017144000144300
Q1 2018132900133200
Q2 2018144300145000
Q3 2018143800143700
Q4 2018128800128900
Q1 2019114400114500
Q2 2019130800130900
Q3 2019128000128100
Q4 2019110600110500
Q1 2020114400114700
Q2 2020118700121100
Q3 2020174700179200
Q4 2020138900141700
Q1 2021-170500

Figure 8.3 compares the pre-IESS and post-IESS estimates of the number of unemployed persons. The effect of IESS on unemployment is less pronounced in 2020 than for employment as more of those absent from work who were previously employed fell into the ‘inactive’ category rather than unemployed.

Q1 200262.162.1
Q2 200262.462.4
Q3 200263.563.5
Q4 200262.362.3
Q1 200362.162.1
Q2 200362.662.6
Q3 200363.763.7
Q4 200362.562.5
Q1 200462.762.7
Q2 200463.163.1
Q3 200464.464.4
Q4 200463.563.5
Q1 200563.663.6
Q2 200564.664.6
Q3 200565.865.8
Q4 200564.764.7
Q1 20066565
Q2 200665.765.7
Q3 200666.766.7
Q4 200665.765.7
Q1 200766.266.2
Q2 200766.766.7
Q3 200767.467.4
Q4 200766.266.2
Q1 200865.865.8
Q2 200866.166.1
Q3 200866.766.7
Q4 200865.165.1
Q1 20096464.1
Q2 200964.764.7
Q3 200964.564.5
Q4 200963.163.1
Q1 201062.362.3
Q2 201063.163
Q3 20106363
Q4 201062.162
Q1 201161.461.4
Q2 201162.362.3
Q3 201162.362.3
Q4 201161.961.8
Q1 201261.461.3
Q2 201261.961.8
Q3 201262.162.1
Q4 201261.261.2
Q1 201361.161.1
Q2 201362.362.2
Q3 201362.662.6
Q4 201361.861.8
Q1 201461.361.3
Q2 201461.761.6
Q3 201462.462.4
Q4 201461.661.6
Q1 201561.261.1
Q2 20156261.9
Q3 201562.462.3
Q4 201561.861.7
Q1 201661.361.2
Q2 201662.662.6
Q3 201662.962.9
Q4 201661.961.9
Q1 201761.561.4
Q2 201761.961.8
Q3 201762.462.3
Q4 201762.262.1
Q1 201861.661.4
Q2 201862.362.2
Q3 201862.662.5
Q4 201862.262
Q1 20196261.9
Q2 201962.162
Q3 201962.562.5
Q4 201962.762.6
Q1 202062.362.2
Q2 202058.956.9
Q3 20206261
Q4 202061.360.6
Q1 2021-60

Figure 8.4 compares the pre-IESS and post-IESS labour force participation rates. Like employment and unemployment, the participation rates for the pre-IESS and post-IESS series are similar up to 2019 but there are differences in 2020 for the reasons outlined above. The participation rate for Q2 2020 shows the highest differential at 2 percentage points and it is worth noting that Q2 also showed the highest number of absences in 2020.

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