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Time-related underemployment exists when the hours of work of an employed person are insufficient in relation to an alternative employment situation in which the person is willing and available to engage.

Persons in time-related underemployment comprise all persons in employment, as defined in current international guidelines regarding employment statistics, who satisfy the following three criteria during the reference period used to define employment:

(a) "willing to work additional hours", i.e. wanted another job (or jobs) in addition to their current job (or jobs) to increase their total hours of work; to replace any of their current jobs with another job (or jobs) with increased hours of work; to increase the hours of work in any of their current jobs; or a combination of the above.

In order to show how "willingness to work additional hours" is expressed in terms of action which is meaningful under national circumstances, those who have actively sought to work additional hours should be distinguished from those who have not.

Actively seeking to work additional hours is to be defined according to the criteria used in the definition of job search used for the measurement of the economically active population, also taking into account activities needed to increase the hours of work in the current job;

(b) "available to work additional hours", i.e. are ready, within a specified subsequent period, to work additional hours, given opportunities for additional work. The subsequent period to be specified when determining workers' availability to work additional hours should be chosen in light of national circumstances and comprise the period generally required for workers to leave one job in order to start another;

(c) "worked less than a threshold relating to working time", i.e. persons whose "hours actually worked" in all jobs during the reference period, as defined in current international guidelines regarding working time statistics, were below a threshold, to be chosen according to national circumstances.

This threshold may be determined by e.g. the boundary between full-time and part-time employment, median values, averages, or norms for hours of work as specified in relevant legislation, collective agreements, agreements on working time arrangements or labour practices in countries.

The primary objective of measuring underemployment and inadequate employment situations is to improve the analysis of employment problems and contribute towards formulating and evaluating short-term and long-term policies and measures designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment as specified in the International Labour Organisation Employment Policy Convention (No. 122) and Recommendations (Nos. 122 and 169) adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1964 and 1984.

In this context, statistics on underemployment and indicators of inadequate employment situations should be used to complement statistics on employment, unemployment and inactivity and the circumstances of the economically active population in a country.

The measurement of underemployment is an integral part of the framework for measuring the labour force established in current international guidelines regarding statistics of the economically active population; and the indicators of inadequate employment situations should as far as possible be consistent with this framework.

Underemployment reflects underutilization of the productive capacity of the employed population, including those which arise from a deficient national or local economic system.

Source Publication:
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Resolution Concerning the measurement of underemployment and inadequate employment situations adopted by the 16th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (October 1998), para. 7.

Cross References:
Invisible underemployment
Visible underemployment


Statistical Theme: Labour statistics

Created on Thursday, May 2, 2002

Last updated on Friday, March 14, 2003