The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a study of the employment circumstances of the UK population. It is the largest household study in the UK and provides the official measures of employment and unemployment.
Frequently asked questions
Why is this study important?
By taking part in our study, you will help us to produce statistics about matters that affect the whole community, including work, unemployment, training, retirement and looking after the family and home.
Why should I take part?
Whatever your circumstances, they are relevant to this study. Obtaining information from as many selected households as possible is the only way we can get a complete and accurate picture of the nation's employment status and other circumstances. By taking part, you ensure that your experiences and circumstances become an important part of the bigger picture of life in the UK today and help to shape policies that affect everyone in the UK.
What is involved?
An interviewer will contact you to arrange a suitable time to conduct the interview. Questionnaire data are collected face-to-face using computer-assisted questionnaires, or completed over the telephone. If you are chosen for a telephone interview, the number we will be calling you from is +44 (0)2392 958 174.
During the interview we will collect information about the circumstances of the whole household and will ask you questions on a range of topics, for example, health, looking after the family and home, employment status, education and training opportunities. Sometimes this will involve one member of the household taking part on behalf of others who live there.
How will the information be used?
Government departments use the results of the study to identify how and where they should be using public resources. They use the information to check how different groups in the community are affected by existing policies and to inform future policy changes.
The European Union uses the results to decide how much funding they will give the UK to improve employment prospects, facilities and opportunities in your local area.
Schools and universities use our statistics for the study of many different subjects.
Examples of statistics produced from one of our studies are available on the Labour market theme pages.
Who is carrying out the study?
The study is being conducted by Office for National Statistics (ONS), the government's largest producer of statistics. We compile independent information about the UK's society and economy, which provides evidence for policy- and decision-making, and for directing resources to where they are needed most. The 10-yearly census, measures of inflation, the national accounts, and population and migration statistics are some of our highest-profile outputs.
Do I have to take part?
Our work is very important and we need your help to make our studies successful. Every year about half a million people help us by taking part in our studies. No-one has to take part if they do not want to, but for us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we interview as many people as possible, from all walks of life.
Is the study confidential?
Yes, UK legislation allows us to collect and process your data to produce statistics for the public good.
Your information will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. It will only be held for as long as it is being used for producing statistics. The statistics produced will not identify you or anyone in your household.
Survey information is also provided to other government departments, approved organisations and approved researchers for statistical purposes only. Details on who can access this information can be found on the approved organisations and government departments page and the approved researchers page. All statistics produced will be subject to the Code and the same standards of protection will be applied to your data at all times.
Why have I been selected?
A sample of households is selected at random from the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File. Once selected, a household cannot be replaced by another household as this would affect the representativeness of the sample. This means your participation is very important to the success of this official study in ensuring that all groups in the community are properly represented.
What is ONS’s responsibility to the public?
You can read about the commitments ONS makes to those taking part in its studies in our ONS Respondent charter for surveys of households and individuals.
If you have a question about how we process your personal data or want to find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, please see our data protection page for more information and the contact details you will need.
Who can I contact for further information?
If you have any queries about taking part in the study, please contact us on +44 (0)800 298 5313. The opening times for the phone line are:
Monday to Thursday 9am to 9pm
Friday 9am to 8pm
Saturday 9am to 1pm
We’d appreciate your suggestions on how we can improve this or any of our studies. It would also be great to hear from you if you’re happy with the service you’ve received.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.