33. In the last seven days, were you doing any of the following?

Why we ask this question

Your answers help your local community by allowing charities, organisations and local authorities to identify where action is needed to help tackle low employment rates in your area.

Your answer also helps local authorities to make plans that support large amounts of public spending, for example, job creation, educational opportunities and health services.

The census first asked questions on employment in 1851.

This question is asking about your working status during the week of Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March 2021.

Include any paid work that you've done. Remember temporary or casual work counts, even if you only worked for one hour for:

  • an employer
  • your own business
  • a family business
  • a private individual

If you have a job but have been off work because you have been furloughed, in quarantine or in self-isolation, select "Temporarily away from work ill, on holiday or temporarily laid off".

Only include unpaid work if it's been for your own, or a family business.

Select all the options that apply. Only include training programmes if you're being paid to attend.

What the terms mean
  • "Working as an employee" means you're either paid a wage by an employer, or on a paid training programme.
  • "Self-employed" means you own your business or professional practice. You may own the business alone, with a business partner or with family. If you're self-employed but have not been working because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you should still select "Self-employed".
  • "Freelance" means you’re self-employed, and work for different companies or people, on particular pieces of work.
  • "Temporarily away from work ill" or "on holiday" includes a career break and means you will be returning to the same employer, even if you're not being paid during your time away.
  • "Temporarily laid off" means an employer has asked an employee not to come to work for a certain period, usually because there's not enough work for them to do at that time. Select this option if this applies to you, and you expect to go back to work for the same employer, whether you're paid or not during this time.
  • "On maternity or paternity leave" covers the time away from work after having a baby. It also includes adoption leave and shared parental leave (SPL).
  • "Doing any other kind of paid work" includes payment in kind. For example, working in exchange for board and lodging as an au pair.
Important information:

Do not include any voluntary work

We recognise that people doing voluntary and unpaid work are a valuable resource. This information is collected in our other household surveys, which help give a better understanding of the effect voluntary work has on the whole economy.

Clergy and elected officials

Select "Working as an employee" and then select the most appropriate options to reflect your current situation.

Jury service

If you were on jury service between Monday 15 March and Sunday 21 March 2021, select the options that best describe your usual status.


If you're waiting for a decision from an employment tribunal, select the options that best describe your status during the week Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March 2021.

Filling your form in early

If you filled in the form before Sunday 21 March 2021 and things have changed, you don't need to tell us.

Important information:

Answering for someone else

If you're answering on behalf of someone else, where possible you should ask them how they would answer. If they're away, answer as best you can.