Class of worker of employed person

Status: This standard was approved as a departmental standard on June 21, 2010.


Class of worker refers to whether a person is an employee or is self-employed. The self-employed include persons with or without a business, as well as unpaid family workers.

Employed person refers to those who, during the reference period, had a labour force status of 'employed'. That is, those who, during the reference period:

(a) Did any work at all at a job or business, that is, paid work in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or self-employment. This also includes persons who did unpaid family work, which is defined as unpaid work contributing directly to the operation of a farm, business or professional practice owned and operated by a related member of the same household; or

(b) Had a job but were not at work due to factors such as their own illness or disability, personal or family responsibilities, vacation or a labour dispute. This category excludes persons not at work because they were on layoff or between casual jobs, and those who did not then have a job (even if they had a job to start at a future date).


Class of worker applies to a specific job.

For the Census of Population, the specific job is usually the job the person held in the reference week. However, if the person did not work during that week but had worked at some time since January 1 of the prior year, the information relates to the job held longest during that period. Persons with two or more jobs were to report the information for the job at which they worked the most hours.

Conformity to relevant internationally recognized standards

There are two different international perspectives on the treatment of working owners of incorporated businesses. The definitions of 'employee' and 'self-employed' used in this standard follow from the perspective of the International Labour Organization (ILO). In this perspective, working owners of incorporated businesses are treated as self-employed.
The other perspective is found in the System of National Accounts (SNA). In this perspective, working owners of incorporated businesses are considered to hold 'employee jobs' since they work for the corporation.

The inclusion of unpaid family workers with the self-employed is compatible with the standards of the ILO as well as that of the SNA.


International Labour Office, Ralf Hussmanns, Farhad Mehran, and Vijay Verma, "Surveys of economically active population, employment, unemployment and underemployment: An ILO manual on concepts and methods" (Geneva, 1990).

European Commission, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations and World Bank, System of National Accounts 2008 (New York, 2009).

Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistical Division, United Nations, "Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses", Revision 3 (New York, 2017).


Additional information


Relation to previous version

  • Class of worker of employed person June 21, 2010 to current

    December 3, 2020 - The name of the classification variant has been changed and several categories have been added.

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