The following guidance is provided to help you complete the survey, especially for employees who were absent from work in the pay period covering 27 April 2022.

Please note that information should be recorded for all employees if they still work for the organisation. This should include those employees being paid despite being absent for reasons such as, but not limited to:

  • sickness

  • maternity or paternity leave

For these employees, the remainder of the questionnaire should be filled in about the job from which they were absent.

Guidance for specific columns in the survey

Column M: “Did the employee have direct supervisory or managerial control of any other employee(s)?"

Column AD: "How much gross pay, before deductions, did the employee receive for work carried out in the pay period?"

Please provide the total gross pay received, even if the employee did not work in the pay period.

Column AF: "If [the employee's basic pay in the pay period was calculated by multiplying the number of hours they worked by an hourly rate of pay], what was the employee's hourly rate of pay in the pay period?"

This question is designed to give us an understanding of hourly rate of pay under normal circumstances. If answering this question, please provide the employee's normal hourly rate of pay, rather than any calculation made to adjust for absences and associated reductions in rate of pay.

Column AG: "Did the employee earn less in the pay period due to absence from work?"

Record "Yes" for any employee whose pay was less because of any type of absence (for example, sickness, maternity or paternity leave, or other).

Pension arrangements

This section asks for information on current membership and contributions to any pension scheme run or facilitated by your organisation. Other types of personal pension or additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) should not be included. If either the employee or employer is on a "contribution holiday", the employee is still a member of the pension scheme.

Please choose only one of the options in Column AK, which refers to the employee's main pension scheme. If you are unsure, choose the scheme with the closest definition. Further information about each scheme can be found in the Glossary.

Please provide amounts for pension contributions and pensionable pay that are for the same pay period given in Column T. Please convert any annual figures to the pay period given in Column T. For example, to convert an annual figure where the pay period is weekly, divide the annual figure by 52.14 (precise number of weeks in a year).

Pension information should generally be available on an employee's pay and/or personnel records. If pension arrangements are organised by an insurance company, you should obtain the details from them.

If the employee or employer contribution is a percentage, convert to a monetary value by multiplying the employee's pensionable pay by the percentage. For example, if an employee has a percentage contribution of 3.5% and a pensionable pay monthly of £1,200, the employee contribution is £1,200 x 3.5% = £42 per month.

If there are no contributions or the contributions are nil (for instance, if the pension scheme is non-contributory or the employer or employee is on a "contribution holiday"), write a single zero. If values are unknown, please leave blank.

If the employee is not a member of any of the pension schemes run or facilitated by the employer, answer "No" to Column AK and go straight to Column AQ.

If the employer pension contribution, or part of it, covers more than one employee, please do not include any lump sum figures that cover more than one employee.

If contributions are a mixture of payments to individuals and lump sums paid to the scheme to cover more than one employee, give the individual amount for the employee but exclude any amounts that cover more than one employee. If no individual amount is known, please leave blank.

Annual earnings

Please note that, unlike the previous sections of the form, this section deals with annual information.

We ask for information relating to the most recent tax year prior to the survey reference date. Please note that if your employee is part of any type of salary sacrifice scheme, you should answer "Yes" to Column AR and then enter figures corresponding to the value of goods or services they receive in Column AS.

Annual leave entitlement

Annual leave should be recorded in days. Please enter the number of whole days before the decimal point and any fractions after the decimal point. For example, if the employee is entitled to 30 and a half days paid annual leave, enter 30 before the decimal point and 5 after it (that is, 30.5 days).

Pay agreement

This section is to establish whether your employee's pay has reference to a collective agreement and at what level this exists. See the Glossary for definitions of the different types of collective agreements.

Comments box (Column AW)

Please also include any other comments in column AW that you feel are relevant to your responses, and that may help us understand how your business has been affected by coronavirus.

Frequently asked questions

Why do I need to provide the Office for National Statistics (ONS) with this information?

Providing accurate information for this survey is a statutory requirement under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. Information collected is used to compile annual statistics that illustrate the distribution of earnings and paid hours for employees within industries, occupations and regions. This analysis is used extensively by government departments, professional organisations, the media and the general public. Information is never given out in a form that identifies an individual employee or employer. It is an offence under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 for the ONS to disclose any individual data relating to a return.

What if I cannot provide the information required?

If information is not available by the return date, please make every effort to derive this information from records kept or give informed estimates. Please contact a member of the SEFT team via the Secure Data Collection platform if you require any assistance with your submission or need to update the SEFT Team with any relevant information.

Why does the questionnaire refer to the past if the employee still works for the company?

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) questionnaire is written in the past tense because it refers to a reference date that is in the past. You are required to fill in this questionnaire if the specified person was employed by you on the reference date, even if they are not employed by you at present.

For what period should I provide information?

The reference period for which you should provide information changes throughout the questionnaire and is summarised here:

  • Columns E through to S - information should be provided for the survey reference date in April specified on the questionnaire.
  • Columns T through to AO - hours and earnings information provided should relate to the employee's pay period that includes the reference date in April (that is, the pay period given in answer to Column T).
  • Columns AP through to AV - annual information provided should relate to the most recent tax year (ending 5 April) prior to the survey reference date.

If the employee is a teacher on a "1,265" or "1,365" directed hours agreement, how do I calculate their basic hours?

If you are having trouble calculating your employee's basic hours for the pay period specified in Column T, the following information may be helpful:

For a "1,265" directed hours agreement:

  • basic weekly hours should be 32 hours and 26 minutes (divide 1,265 by 39 working weeks)
  • basic monthly hours should be 141 hours and 2 minutes

For a "1,365" (Scotland) directed hours agreement:

  • basic weekly hours are capped at 35 hours
  • basic monthly hours should be 152 hours and 11 minutes


Additional voluntary contributions

Additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) are a pension top-up arrangement where an employee pays additional amounts into a pension run by their employer in order to increase their pension entitlement. Normally, the contributions are deducted from the employee's pay.

Benefits in kind

Benefits in kind are received by employees from their employment but are not included in their salaries or wages. They include things like company cars, private medical insurance paid for by the employer, and cheap or free loans.

Collective agreement

A collective agreement is an agreement between one or more employers and one or more trade unions or workers' committees concerning aspects of employment such as pay and conditions. Types of agreement include:

  • national or industry - an agreement at UK level, or an agreement for a particular industry as a whole; this is the most common type of agreement and exists mostly for occupations such as teachers, health professionals and protective service occupations
  • sub-national - an agreement at regional level, which can cover more than one employer and more than one industry; this type of agreement is rare but exists for some public service professionals, childcare services and teaching occupations
  • organisational - a single employer agreement that covers some or all of its employees; this type of agreement is common in retail and sales companies and general administrative occupations
  • workplace - an agreement applying only to employees in one workplace or site; agricultural occupations and transport companies sometimes have this type of agreement

Contribution holiday

A contribution holiday is a temporary period during which the employer or employee takes a break in making pension contributions because of a surplus in a defined benefit pension fund.

Pensionable pay

Pensionable pay are the earnings on which benefits and/or contributions are calculated under the pension scheme rules. One or more elements of earnings (for example, overtime) may be excluded.

Pension schemes

Defined benefit

A defined benefit (DB) pension is one in which the rules of the scheme specify the rate of benefits to be paid. The most common DB scheme is a final salary scheme in which the benefits are based on the number of years of pensionable service, the accrual rate and the final year's salary. Other DB schemes calculate benefits using the average of selected years' salaries or the best year's salary within a specified period before retirement. Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) schemes are becoming increasingly common; this is a form of DB scheme where the pension is based on salary multiplied by the accrual rate in each year of an individual's working life. Entitlements that are built up each year are revalued until retirement in line with inflation or earnings.

Defined contribution

A defined contribution pension scheme is one in which the benefits are determined by the contributions paid into the scheme, the investment return on those contributions, management charges and the type of annuity purchased upon retirement. Such schemes are also known as money purchase schemes.

Group personal pension

A group personal pension (GPP) is an arrangement made for the employees of a particular employer (or group of employers) to participate in a personal pension scheme (provided by insurance companies) on a group basis. This is a collecting arrangement only; the contract is between the individual and the pension provider, normally an insurance company. The benefits received from GPPs are determined by the contributions paid, the investment return on those contributions (less management charges) and the type of annuity purchased upon retirement.

Stakeholder pension

Stakeholder pensions have been available since 2001. They are a flexible, portable and personal pension arrangement (provided by insurance companies) with capped management charges that must meet the conditions set out in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 and be registered with The Pensions Regulator. They can be taken out by an individual or facilitated by an employer. You should only include these if the employee is a member of any stakeholder pension that has been arranged through the employer. The benefits received from stakeholder pensions are determined by the contributions paid into the scheme, the investment return on those contributions (less management charges) and the type of annuity purchased upon retirement.

Group self-invested personal pension

A group self-invested personal pension (GSIPP) is a specialised type of GPP scheme under which employees make their own investment decisions. You should only include these if the employee is a member of any GSIPP that has been arranged through the employer.

National Employment Savings Trust

A National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is a workplace pension scheme set up at the end of 2011 that all employers can use to automatically enrol their UK-based workers. NEST was set up to meet the criteria of a qualifying scheme under new employer duties outlined in the Pensions Acts 2008 and 2011. NEST is an occupational defined contribution scheme with fixed levels of minimum contributions (specified as a percentage of a member's earnings). The benefits received from NEST will be determined by the contributions paid into the scheme, the investment return on those contributions (less management charges) and the type of annuity purchased upon retirement.

State Second Pension and State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme

State Second Pension (S2P) and State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) are the Additional State Pension received in addition to the Basic State Pension. The S2P is the successor, since 6 April 2002, to the SERPS, previously known as graduated retirement benefit. The Additional State Pension provides an earnings-related second pension based on National Insurance contributions (NICs). It is possible for DB occupational pension schemes to be contracted out of the Additional State Pension.

Contracting out

Contracting out is a statutory arrangement where pension schemes that meet certain conditions may contract out of S2P. The members' and employers' NICs are reduced or partially rebated. Members of a contracted-out pension scheme obtain rights in the pension scheme in place of additional earnings-related benefits under the state scheme. Whether an employee is contracted out may be indicated on the employee's pay slip by a NIC table letter of D, E, C or L. NIC tables are issued by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for employers to use to calculate the correct NIC amounts to apply to an employee's earnings. From April 2012, contracting out for employees in defined contribution or personal pensions ceased. Contracting out is now only possible for members of DB occupational pension schemes.

Salary sacrifice scheme

A salary sacrifice scheme is where an employee agrees to receive goods or services in place of some of their basic pay. The employee agrees to new employment terms with a new level of basic pay. The goods and services received can be any non-cash benefit, but common examples are child-minding services, health or dental plans, use of a company car, and changes in pension contributions.

For further assistance, please telephone the ASHE survey team on 0300 1234 938.