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Economic News Release
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ATUS TUS Program Links

Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules Technical Note

Technical Note

   The data in this release were collected with a supplementary set of questions, 
the 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module, asked as part of the American Time 
Use Survey (ATUS) in 2017 and 2018. The ATUS—a continuous survey conducted by the 
U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics—focuses on obtaining information 
about how individuals age 15 and over spend their time. For more information about 
the survey, see the ATUS User’s Guide at www.bls.gov/tus/atususersguide.pdf.

   The 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module was sponsored by the Department 
of Labor's Women's Bureau. The purpose of this module was to obtain information 
about workers' access to and use of leave, job flexibilities, and work schedules.
The data in this release pertain to wage and salary workers and their main job. 
The data exclude all self-employed workers. Respondents to the 2017-18 Leave and 
Job Flexibilities Module answered questions about access to paid and unpaid leave, 
reasons for taking leave, use of leave, times when leave was needed but not taken, 
ability to adjust work schedules, shift work, advance notice of schedules, control 
over their schedules, work-at-home arrangements, and other related topics. There 
were about 10,000 respondents to the Leave and Job Flexibilities Module in 
2017-18.

   Data in this release are about job flexibilities and work schedules. These data 
were collected directly from wage and salary workers, and they thus represent 
workers' knowledge on these topics. Leave and Job Flexibilities Module data were  
collected from January 2017 through December 2018. 

   Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals 
upon request. Voice phone:  (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Questions and concepts

   The 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module was introduced with the statement,
"The next few questions are about paid and unpaid leave from a job." Following the 
introduction, respondents were asked whether they receive paid leave at their main 
job and, if so, the reasons for which they can take paid leave. Respondents were 
then asked about their ability to take leave without pay and reasons for which they 
can take unpaid leave from their main job.
   
   Respondents with access to paid or unpaid leave were asked whether they had taken 
any leave during the past 7 days. If they took leave, they were asked about the length 
and main reason for taking leave.

   In the next set of questions, respondents were asked about how much flexibility 
they have in arranging their work schedules. Respondents were asked if they can 
vary or change the times they begin and end work. If able to do so, respondents 
were asked how often they can change these times, and whether their ability to do 
so was governed by a formal or informal arrangement with their employer. Workers 
unable to vary the times they begin and end work were asked whether they have input 
into their work schedules. Respondents were then asked how far in advance they know
their work schedules.  

   Next, respondents were asked about the time of day and days of the week they 
usually work. Those working a non-daytime schedule were asked about the shift they 
usually work, and the main reason why they work this shift. Respondents were then 
asked on which days they usually work during the week. 

   Next, respondents were asked if they can work at home. Respondents who indicated 
they can work at home were asked if they ever do work at home, if they are paid for 
the hours they work at home, and the main reason they work at home. Those who do 
work at home were asked if there are days they work only at home and, if so, how often.

   In the last section, respondents were asked if there were times during the past 
month in which they needed to take off from work but did not. If so, respondents 
were asked their reasons for needing to take leave. Respondents with access to paid 
or unpaid leave were asked about their reasons for not using leave. 

   The Leave and Job Flexibilities Module questionnaire is available at 
www.bls.gov/tus/lvmquestionnaire1718.pdf.

Definitions

Employment and earnings

   --Employed. All persons who:

     1) At any time during the 7 days prior to the interview did any work at all as 
        paid employees, or worked in their own business or profession or on their 
        own farm; or 

     2) Were not working during the 7 days prior to the interview but had jobs or 
        businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of illness, bad 
        weather, vacation, childcare problems, labor-management disputes, maternity 
        or paternity leave, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether 
        or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs; or

     3) Usually worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in a family-operated enterprise.

   --Employed full time. For the purpose of producing estimates related to job flexibility 
     and work schedules, full-time workers are single jobholders who usually worked 35 or 
     more hours per week.

   --Employed part time. For the purpose of producing estimates related to job flexibility 
     and work schedules, part-time workers are single jobholders who usually worked fewer 
     than 35 hours per week.

   --Main job. For persons holding more than one job, the questions in the Leave and 
     Job Flexibilities Module referred to the characteristics of their main job—the job in 
     which they usually worked the most hours. 

   --Wage and salary workers. These are workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions, 
     tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group includes employees in both the private 
     and public sectors. For the purpose of producing estimates related to job flexibility 
     and work schedules, wage and salary workers do not include any self-employed workers; 
     this differs from the annual ATUS news release, in which workers who are self-employed 
     and whose businesses are incorporated are classified as wage and salary workers.

   --Usual weekly earnings. Estimates represent the earnings of full-time wage and salary 
     workers with one job only, before taxes and other deductions.  

   --Weekly earnings quartiles. The ranges used for the quartiles represent approximately 
     25 percent of full-time wage and salary workers who held only one job. For example, 
     25 percent of full-time wage and salary workers with one job only had weekly earnings 
     of $590 or less in 2017 and $630 or less in 2018. Weekly earnings in the 25th to the 
     50th percentile range amounted to $591 to $920 in 2017 and $631 to $960 in 2018. 
     Weekly earnings in the 50th to the 75th percentile range were $921 to $1,440 in 2017 
     and $961 to $1,530 in 2018. Those earning greater than the 75th percentile had earnings 
     of $1,441 and higher in 2017 and $1,531 and higher in 2018. Earnings ranges were 
     estimated using the 2017 and 2018 ATUS data.

Job flexibilities and work schedules

   --Work schedule flexibility. Respondents were asked "Do you have flexible work 
     hours that allow you to vary or make changes in the times you begin and end work?" 
     Respondents were identified as having work schedule flexibility if they 
     answered "yes" to this question.

   --Workplace flexibility. Respondents were asked "As part of your job, can you 
     work at home?" or, for those with multiple jobs, "As part of your main job, 
     can you work at home?" Respondents were identified as having workplace 
     flexibility if they answered "yes" to one of these questions. 

   --Workers who did work at home. If respondents were identified as having 
     workplace flexibility, they were asked "Do you ever work at home?" Those who 
     answered "yes" to this question are classified as workers who did work at home.

   --Daytime schedule. The majority of time respondents worked was between 
     6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

   --Evening shift. The majority of time respondents worked was between 2 p.m. 
     and midnight.

   --Night shift. The majority of time respondents worked was between 9 p.m. 
     and 8 a.m.

   --Rotating shift. Hours change periodically from days to evenings or nights.

   --Split shift. Hours consist of two distinct periods each day.

   --Number of days per week worked. Respondents were asked, "How many days of 
     the week do you usually work?" or, for those with multiple jobs, "How many days 
     of the week do you usually work at your main job?"

   --Usual days worked. Respondents were asked, "Which days of the week do you 
     usually work?" or, for those with multiple jobs, "Which days of the week 
     do you usually work at your main job?" Some respondents identified the days 
     they usually worked and also said their schedule varies.
         
Comparability of the estimates

ATUS time-use data
       
   Estimates about work at home presented in this news release differ from 
estimates generated from other surveys, including estimates on work at home
presented in the annual ATUS news release.   
      
   Data collected in the 2017-18 ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module 
measure whether workers can and do work at home at their main jobs, whether 
they are paid for this work, their reasons for working at home, and their 
frequency of working at home. 
         
   By contrast, annual data from the ATUS provide measures about the population 
of workers who work at home on a given day. These estimates are derived from 
data collected in the time diary. Workers who sometimes work at home, but did not 
report working at home in their one-day diary, are not counted in the estimates 
about work at home. Additionally, ATUS estimates about work at home include a mix
of both scheduled and unscheduled work. Reported work times may have been as 
short as one minute spent checking a work email account to more than a 12-hour 
work shift.

2011 ATUS Leave Module
   
   The 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module questionnaire is a re-designed 
and improved version of the 2011 Leave Module questionnaire. Questions were added, 
dropped, and modified. The 2011 Leave Module included some questions about 
workers' ability to adjust their work schedule or location instead of taking time 
off from work. In 2017-18, these questions were replaced with questions about workers' 
usual schedules and their access to schedule and workplace flexibility. Estimates 
about workers who can adjust their schedule or location in the news release "Access 
to and use of leave—2011 data from the American Time Use Survey" are not comparable 
with the 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module estimates appearing in this 
news release. 

2004 May CPS Supplement

   There are some key differences between the 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities 
Module and the May 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS) supplement about work 
schedules, job-related work at home, and other related topics. These differences 
affect the comparability of estimates from the ATUS module and the CPS supplement.  
         
   The 2017-18 ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module collected information from 
wage and salary workers only, while the 2004 CPS supplement collected information 
about all employed workers. While many questions in the two collections were 
similar, the ordering of the questions and context in which they were asked 
differed between the ATUS module and the CPS supplement. In addition, collection 
periods differed. The ATUS module was conducted continuously from January 2017 
through December 2018, while the CPS supplement was conducted during May 2004 only. 
Also, the ATUS module asked respondents about themselves, while CPS respondents 
answered questions about themselves and others in the household. 
         
   These methodological and other differences prevent the direct comparison of 
published estimates from the May 2004 CPS supplement and the ATUS module. 
         
   Estimates published in the news release "Work at Home in 2004" are not 
comparable with the estimates presented in this news release. The 2004 news release
presented estimates for all workers (including self-employed workers) who usually 
worked at home at least once per week as part of their primary job in nonagricultural 
industries. This news release includes work-at-home estimates for wage and salary 
workers in all industries, regardless of how frequently the workers worked at home.  
         
   Similarly, estimates in the news release "Workers on Flexible and Shift Schedules 
in May 2004" are not comparable with estimates provided in this news release. 
The 2004 estimates refer to job flexibility and work schedules for full-time wage 
and salary workers on their main job. This news release includes estimates for both 
full- and part-time wage and salary workers on their main job.

Employer-based surveys 

   Estimates of access to job flexibility that are derived from responses to 
household (or employee-based) surveys may differ from estimates produced using 
establishment (or employer-based) surveys. 

   Establishment surveys often provide more detailed and specific data on employer 
policies, while household surveys provide information about the experiences and 
characteristics of people and their households. Household data from the 2017-18 
Leave and Job Flexibilities Module allow researchers to examine job flexibilities in 
the context of workers' demographics, such as their sex, age, ethnicity, education, 
and race. These data also provide insight into the reasons why people work at home 
and why they work non-daytime schedules when they do. In addition, employer-based 
surveys often measure the incidence of more formal arrangements between employers 
and their employees. The 2017-18 Leave and Job Flexibilities Module captures both 
formal and informal arrangements governing access to job flexibility.
        
Reliability of the estimates

   Statistics based on the ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module are subject to 
both sampling and nonsampling error. When a sample, rather than the entire 
population, is surveyed, estimates differ from the true population values they 
represent. The component of this difference that occurs because samples differ by 
chance is known as sampling error, and its variability is measured by the standard 
error of the estimate.  
   
   Sample estimates from a given survey design are unbiased when an average of 
the estimates from all possible samples would yield, hypothetically, the true 
population value. In this case, the sample estimate and its standard error can be 
used to construct approximate confidence intervals, or ranges of values that 
include the true population value with known probabilities. If the process of 
selecting a sample from the population were repeated many times, an estimate made
from each sample, and a suitable estimate of its standard error calculated for 
each sample, then approximately 90 percent of the intervals from 1.645 standard 
errors below the estimate to 1.645 standard errors above the estimate would include 
the true population value. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent 
level of confidence. 
         
   The ATUS Leave and Job Flexibilities Module data also are affected by 
nonsampling error, which is the average difference between population and sample 
values for samples generated by a given process. Nonsampling error can occur for 
many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the population, inability 
to obtain information for all respondents in the sample, inability or unwillingness 
of respondents to provide correct information, and errors made in the collection or 
processing of the data.  



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Last Modified Date: September 24, 2019