Basic Concepts and Definitions

Work
Human activities, paid or unpaid, that produce the goods or services in an economy, or supply the needs of a community, or provide a person’s accustomed means of livelihood.

Unpaid work
Activities without remuneration, e.g. household work, voluntary or civic service, training.

Employment
Work carried out in return for payment. Also refers to the number of people in paid employment and self-employment.

Precarious employment
Work relation where employment security, which is considered one of the principal elements of the labour contract, is lacking. This term encompasses temporary and fixed term labour contracts, work at home and subcontracting.

Full employment
Situation where all persons seeking employment have been provided with paid positions.

Informal employment
Includes all remunerative work (i.e. both self-employment and wage employment), that is not registered, regulated or protected by existing legal or regulatory frameworks, as well as non-remunerative work undertaken in an income-producing enterprise. Informal workers do not have secure employment contracts, worker’s benefits, social protection or workers’ representation.

Informal economy
The informal economy forms part of the market economy in that it produces (legal) goods and services for sale or other form of remuneration. It covers informal employment both in informal enterprises (small unregistered or unincorporated enterprises), and outside informal enterprises. Informal entrepreneurs and workers share one important characteristic: they are not recognized or protected under existing legal and regulatory frameworks. The informal economy excludes the criminal economy and the reproductive or care economy.

Informal workers
Informal workers do not have secure employment contracts, worker’s benefits, social protection or workers’ representation.

Clandestine employment
Gainful occupation carried out in violation of provisions set by legislation.

Hidden economy
Part of the economy based on clandestine work or illegal activities and which, therefore, is not accounted for in national statistics.

Bonded labour
System whereby people are required to repay a debt by working for their creditors.

Moonlighting
Where a person, in addition to his or her regular employment, carries out work for payment illegally or undeclared for tax purposes.

Dual jobholding
Where a worker holds more than one job at the same time, legally, either for two or more different employers, or as self-employed for one of the jobs.

Underemployment
Underutilization or inefficient use of a worker’s skills, qualifications or experience, or where the worker is unable to work as many hours as he or she is willing to.

Frictional unemployment
Type of unemployment in which people are out of work on a temporary, short-term basis, usually while between jobs.

Redundancy
Use for permanent workforce reductions at the enterprise level for economic reasons (e.g. bankruptcy or restructuring) affecting a sizeable number of workers.

Work at home
Work carried out by a person in his or her home or in other premises of his or her choice, other than the workplace of the employer, for remuneration and which results in a product or service as specified by the employer, irrespective of who provides the equipment, materials or other inputs used.

Telework
Work at a distance (incl. work at home) employing telecommunication and/or computer facilities.

Vulnerable groups
Groups particularly threatened by social, economic, political or other pressures.

Bonded labour
System whereby people are required to repay a debt by working for their creditors.

Capital worker ratio
Statistics on capital investment per worker.

Child labour
Children’s work which is of such a nature or intensity that it is detrimental to their schooling or harmful to their health and development.

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