40. In your main job, what is (was) your employment status?

Why we ask this question

Your answer helps your community by identifying barriers to employment in your area. This helps local authorities, charities and other organisations to decide what they will do to help people get back into work.

Your answer will also help monitor inequality across a range of areas, for example, the state pension age, access to higher education and public health.

The census first asked this question in 1851.

This question is about the main job you had on Sunday 21 March 2021. If you weren't working, answer about the last job you had.

Only select one option.

If you're not sure, answer as best you can.

What the terms mean

"Employee" means you're either paid a wage by an employer, or on a paid training programme. Also select this option if you are, or were, working in a job that paid a living allowance rather than a salary, such as clergy or elected officials.

"Self-employed" means you own your business or professional practice alone, with a business partner or with family. If you're self-employed but you haven't 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.

What we mean by main job

Your circumstances may have changed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Answer about your current main job if you have one.

If you don't have a job at the moment, answer about the most recent job you had.

If you're away from work on furlough, in quarantine or self-isolating, consider the hours you were working before being away from work.

More than one job

If you have more than one job at the same time:

  • answer about the job in which you usually work the most hours
  • if your hours are equal, use the job that pays the most
  • if your hours and pay are equal, use the one you did most recently

Changing jobs

If you're in the middle of changing jobs, answer about the main one you were doing on Sunday 21 March 2021. Only answer about your new position if you've already left your previous job.

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.