16.7.2024 valid documentation

Basic data of the statistics

Data description

The Quality of Work Life Surveys are extensive surveys covering the wage and salary earner population living in Finland conducted since 1977 at intervals of around five years. In the survey, the quality of work life is broadly understood as physical, mental and social factors of the working environment. 
The data of the Quality of Work Life Survey allow for making generalisations concerning Finnish work life, studying the condition of work life prevalent at any given time – the level of well-being and ill-being – and for monitoring changes occurring over a long period of time.  The results are used as support for decision-making related to labour policies both on a national level and the level of organisations, and the survey provides material for scientific studies in the field, as well as a point of reference for local or industry-specific research of working life.

The concepts and definitions are described at: https://stat.fi/en/statistics/documentation/tyoolot#Concepts.

Statistical population

The population of the Quality of Work Life Survey consists of employed wage and salary earners working at least 10 hours per week. Starting from 2023, the sample includes persons aged 18 to 67. Until 2013, the age definition for the sample was those aged 15 to 64, and in 2018 and 2021 those aged 15 to 67. 

Statistical unit

The statistical unit is a person (employed wage and salary earner).

Unit of measure

The unit of measure used is mainly the percentage of each of the groups under examination. In some variables, the unit of measure is years and months (such as the duration of absence due to childcare). The unit of measure in the working capacity index and workplace wellbeing index is the score on a scale of one to ten.  

Reference period

The reference period is a calendar year.  

Reference area

The results of the Quality of Work Life Survey are published on the level of Finland as a whole. 

Sector coverage

The Quality of Work Life Survey covers employed wage and salary earners living in Finland and working at least 10 hours per week including all groups in the Classification of Occupations and the Standard Industrial Classification.

Time coverage

The Quality of Work Life Survey represents cross-sectional statistics, which cover the years 1977, 1984, 1990, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018 and 2023. The web inquiry on the effects of the corona crisis on working life carried out in 2021 can also be counted as a Quality of Work Life Survey. Its methods and content were mainly in line with the Quality of Work Life Survey.  

Frequency of dissemination

The Quality of Work Life Survey is conducted approximately every five years and the results are published during the year following the survey year. More detailed results are published in the thematic publication in connection to the release, after which the results will continue to be published in the form of articles, blogs and presentations, for example. 


Absence from working life due to child care

In the Quality of Work Life Survey the respondents are inquired whether they have been absent from working life due to child care during their life.

This means generally a longer absence from work caused only by family leave, child home care leave or other child care - occasional, short absences are not included, such as a child falling ill. If the person has had several maternity leaves, the periods are added up.

Absence is also the time when in addition to child care the person has worked only occasionally or little (under 5 hours per week).

If the respondent has been on maternity or paternal leave or taken care of children direct after school/studies before starting paid employment, this time is also counted as absence from working life.

Day work

The working time starts and ends between 6 am and 6 pm.

Distance work

Distance work refers to paid work that is done outside the actual workplace - such as at home, summer cottage or when travelling on the train - so that it has been agreed upon with the employer. Distance work generally involves use of information technology. Distance work is in its nature such that it could also be performed at place of work. For example, the work of a telephone installer or messenger is not considered distance work. Work arrangements independent of time and place are essential for distance work. Partial distance working is also counted as distance work.


An employee is a person who works and receives pay or compensation for it. Employees are classified into workers and salaried employees.

Employer sector

Employed persons are classified by employer into public and private sectors. The public sector is further divided into central government and local government. The employer sector is determined on the basis of the data on the job or enterprise in the Business Register. The classification of the employer sector is based on the official Classification of Sectors 2012.

Fixed-term job

Employees with an employment contract for a fixed term or for carrying out certain tasks are considered as being in temporary employment.

Full-time work

Employees or self-employed persons who report they work full-time in their main job are classified as full-time workers. The definition is not based on any hour limits, but on the respondent's own idea of the work being full-time.

Inappropriate treatment

According to Section 28 of the Occupation Safety and Health Act that entered into force in January 2003, if harassment or other inappropriate treatment of an employee occurs at work and causes hazards or risks to the employee's health, the employer, after becoming aware of the matter, shall by available means take measures for remedying this situation.

Local kind of activity unit (Establishment)

An establishment, or local kind-of-activity unit, is a production unit owned by one enterprise or quasicorporate unit, located on one site, and producing goods or services of mainly one particular type. Establishments include, e.g., factories, shops, market stalls and kiosks. Establishments within public administration include, e.g., tax offices, municipal libraries and health care centres.

The establishment is a key unit in the application of the Standard Industrial Classification because

- data by establishment gives the best picture of the structure of the economy,
- establishments can be used for collecting data and producing statistics on the activities of enterprises by geographical and administrative area,
- it is fastest and most economical to collect many basic data related to production, such as numbers of items produced and hours worked, directly from establishments,
- establishments make it possible to obtain data by industry on enterprises operating within several industries,
- all statistics on persons describe the distribution of the population by industry or economic activity through establishments.

As an enterprise always operates at some location, it has at least one establishment. Most enterprises have a single establishment while the largest enterprises may have numerous establishments in different parts of the country. Furthermore, these may operate in different economic sectors.

Mental violence

Mental violence or bullying at work refers to isolation, invalidating of work, threats, talking behind one's back and other pressurising directed to a member of the work community. Mental violence may be perpetrated by the supervisor or colleagues, but also by customers or students.

Number of occupations during life

The number of those occupations the respondent has engaged in when gainful employment has been the main activity. Occupations of those employed with subsidised measures are included, but not such as occasional summer work.


Data on occupations are based on the interviewees' own reporting in the Labour Force Survey. The occupation of an employed person is defined according to the occupation in the main job. The occupation of an unemployed person is determined according to the situation before unemployment. In the Labour Force Survey the occupation is classified according to the classifications of occupations used at Statistics Finland.

Occupational accident

Occupational accidents are such employment accidents for which insurance companies have paid compensation.

An occupational accident is defined in Section 4 of the Employment Accidents Act. An employment accident means any accident causing injury or illness sustained by the employee in the course of his/her employment or in circumstances arising from employment. According to the act, employment accidents are divided according to the place of accident as follows:
- an employment accident has occurred at work or in work-related circumstances. Then traffic accidents while at work are also defined as employment accidents.
- commuting accident has occurred outside the actual working time while commuting from his/her residence to work or vice versa.

Part-time work

Employees or self-employed persons who report they work part-time in their main job are classified as part-time workers. The definition is not based on any hour limits, but on the respondent's own idea of the work being part-time.

Performance-related pay

Performance-related pay is a general designation for various items paid on top of pay based on results and profits. They can be divided into main types, which are called performance bonus, profit bonus and profit distribution item. Performance payment does not here include various share and incentive stock option arrangements.

Period work

Period work is a working time balancing system where daily or weekly working hours may exceed the maximum number of hours prescribed in law (8 h per day or 40 h per week), but the number of working hours is balanced off within a certain longer time period.

Regular evening work

Part of the working time is regularly after 6 pm but mostly before 9 pm.

Regular night work

Most of the working time is regularly between 9 pm and 6 am.


Rehabilitation is here defined fairly broadly; it also includes activities arranged at workplaces for maintaining working capacity or increasing welfare at work. It is essential whether the person regards the activity as rehabilitation.


The information about sex has been obtained from the Population Information System.

Successive employment relationships

Successive employment relationships refer to so-called chained employment relationships for the same employer, which follow each other almost immediately - after a break of at most one week.

In the field of education employment relationships with a break of the whole summer can be taken into account. It is quite common in the branch that a fixed-term employment relationship ends at the beginning of the summer when the term ends, and a new employment relationship is started in the autumn at the beginning of the term.

Team work

Team work refers to working in a permanent group or team, which has a common task and has the opportunity to plan its work.

A group is often defined as a continuously interacting community or set formed by two or more people with common goals. In working life groups and teams can be founded to look after a continuing task or production or on the other hand, for some restricted task only.

It is a question of the respondent doing his or her normal work in a group or in several groups. Included are not some separate representative tasks demanding only little working time in different work groups. On the other hand, group working is difficult to distinguish from a small work unit that works according to a certain division of work. The respondent's personal opinion is here decisive: whether he or she calls his or her work team or group work. In some branches, such as the metal industry, the corresponding units are called cells.

Three-shift work

Work takes place in three shifts around the day (morning, evening and night shift). Can be interrupted (e.g. production is interrupted for the weekend at workplace) or uninterrupted. Four-shift, five-shift and six-shift work are forms of uninterrupted three-shift work and they thus belong here.

Unpaid overtime

In the Quality of Work Life Survey, overtime without compensation is dependent on the respondent's own opinion. Some may consider overtime staying at work without compensation for five minutes over working time, some do not count a short time over working time as working overtime.

If the respondent works overtime, for which he or she gets compensation as time off but in practice never has time to take all that time off, this can be regarded as overtime without compensation.

The maximum working time prescribed in the working hours legislation also concerns upper salaried employees even if they said that they had signed an employment contract where overtime is regarded as being included in their pay. Only the very top management remains outside the Working Hours Act.

Contract or project workers do not have agreed working time but they are paid on completed work. Then they cannot in principle work overtime either. If the respondent thinks he or she works much more than normal working time (e.g. over 40 hours per week), this can be counted as overtime without compensation.

Accuracy, reliability and timeliness

Overall accuracy

The data of the Quality of Work Life Survey are based on the information provided by the respondents in the interviews or web inquiry. The questionnaire was designed so that the questions would be as clear and easy as possible to answer. Special attention was also paid to the training of the interviewers during the interview data collections. However, differences in respondents’ ways of interpreting and understanding the questions presented and the response alternatives to them cannot be avoided altogether in an inquiry. 
The accuracy of the survey results is impacted by non-response. The distribution of non-response in the Quality of Work Life Survey is very similar to that in interview surveys in general: the response rate is higher for women than men, and for those with tertiary level qualifications it is better than for those with basic level or upper secondary level qualifications. The response rate among younger age groups is the lowest, and the best response rates are achieved among the oldest wage and salary earners. The response rate of the Quality of Work Life Survey 2023 was 71 per cent. 
Starting from 2018, weighting coefficients have been calculated for the data that correct the bias of the data structure according to sex, 10-year age group, region, level of education and socio-economic group in such a way that the data correspond with the target population estimated on the basis of the Labour Force Survey. Weighting coefficients have also been calculated retroactively for the data of the 2008 and 2013 Quality of Work Life Surveys based on sex, 10-year age group, region and level of education. 


The Quality of Work Life Survey is conducted at approximately five-year intervals and the data describe the responses of wage and salary earners during the period of the data collection, which has conventionally taken place in the autumn of the survey year, with the exception of 2008, when the data collection took place in the spring. The thematic publication made from the collected data is released in the year following the survey year. 


Comparability - geographical

The data content of the Quality of Work Life Survey is not based on national or international regulations, so the results of the survey are not directly comparable internationally. 

Comparability - over time

Most of the questions of the Quality of Work Life Survey have been repeated identically from one survey round to the next so that the surveys for 1977 to 2018 form a comprehensive, mainly comparable time series. In 1977 to 2018, the survey data were collected as face-to-face interviews.

Starting from 2021, the data collection method changed from face-to-face interviews to web data collection, which caused a break in the time series. The new comparable time series starts from 2023 (to some extent from 2021). New topics have also been added in each survey round for which the time series begins from the year in question. 

Coherence - cross domain

In addition to the Quality of Work Life Survey, Statistics Finland’s statistics related to the labour market include the Labour Force Survey, the Job Vacancy Survey, statistics on labour disputes, statistics on occupational accidents and employment statistics. Of these, the data content and interests of the Labour Force Survey, in particular, partially overlap with the Quality of Work Life Survey. 
Whereas the target population of the Labour Force Survey consists of the entire working-age population, however, the target population of the Quality of Work Life Survey consists only of wage and salary earners who work at least ten hours a week. In addition, the Quality of Work Life Survey aims to examine aspects related to wage and salary earners’ employment history, as well as the physical, mental and social quality of work life from a much broader and in-depth perspective than what is possible within the framework of the Labour Force Survey. The Quality of Work Life Survey has conventionally been conducted in the autumn, with the exception of 2008, when the data were collected in the spring. The Labour Force Survey is a monthly recurring data collection. 
Because the Quality of Work Life Survey is conducted in connection with Statistics Finland's monthly data collection for the Labour Force Survey, the data collected in connection with the Labour Force Survey can easily be integrated with the data of the Quality of Work Life Survey. Data integrated from the Labour Force Survey include the respondent’s occupation, the industry of the workplace, the length of the employment and regular working hours. 

Source data and data collections

Source data

The statistics are based on sample data collected at approximately five-year intervals. Until 2018, the data were collected with face-to-face interviews and from 2023 onwards with a web questionnaire. In 2023, the sample size of the survey was around 8,000 persons.

Data collection

The data collection for 2023 was carried out as a web inquiry. In addition to Finnish, the form was available in Swedish and English. The form of the Quality of Work Life Survey is designed on the basis of the form used in the previous survey round. While the aim of the design is to retain key themes, the form is updated in accordance with the need for new data. The form is subject to cognitive testing and a small-scale pilot survey.  
At the end of the Labour Force Survey those drawn to the sample of the Quality of Work Life Survey were informed about the coming Quality of Work Life Survey and they were sent a text message containing a link to the questionnaire. The progress of the data collection was monitored and reminder messages were sent to those target persons who had not responded to the inquiry within a certain time period. After this, the target persons were approached again if necessary with a telephone call from a statistical interviewer, which was used to motivate the target persons to respond to the inquiry. Thanks to the motivation calls, the response rate was raised from 50 to around 70 per cent. 
In the Quality of Work Life Survey 2023, an incentive for responding, a code of EUR 10 to R kiosks, was also used for the first time. The codes were sent by text message to those respondents who returned the questionnaire. Around 45 per cent of the respondents who received the gift code used it.  

Frequency of data collection

The statistics are based on sample data collected at approximately five-year intervals. 


Data compilation

Starting from 2018, weighting coefficients have been calculated for the persons having responded to the Quality of Work Life Survey, which correct the bias in the data structure and inflate the results obtained from the survey to the level of the population so that they correspond to the estimates of the Labour Force Survey by sex, 10-year age group, region, level of education and socio-economic group. In 2023, the population of the Quality of Work Life Survey comprised employed wage and salary earners aged 18 to 67 whose regular weekly working time was at least ten hours. 
The following data were used in the calibration of the weights of the data for 2018, 2021 and 2023: 
•    10-year age group 
•    sex 
•    area (division of regions, in which the Greater Helsinki area separately)  
•    education (at most basic level, secondary level, lowest tertiary level, university degree)  
•    socio-economic group (manual workers, lower-level salaried employees, upper-level salaried employees) 
Weighting coefficients have been calculated retrospectively for the data of the 2008 and 2013 Quality of Work Life Surveys. The variables in question, excluding socio-economic group, were also used in the weight calibration of the 2008 and 2013 data. 

Data validation

The response data and also the final data are checked in connection with the compilation and reporting. Most of the checks in the response data are programmed on the questionnaire form. Logic checks are carried out after this, during the data processing phase. 

Principles and outlines

Contact organisation

Statistics Finland

Contact organisation unit

Social Statistics 

Legal acts and other agreements

Compilation of the statistics is guided by the Statistics Act (280/2004, as amended 361/2013), the general act of the national statistical service. Only the necessary data that cannot be obtained from administrative data sources are requested from data suppliers. Index series are published so that no individual enterprise’s data or development can be deduced from them. 

Further information: Statistical legislation

Confidentiality - policy

The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable. 

Further information: Data protection

Confidentiality - data treatment

The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. 

The data are handled only by persons who need the data in their work. The use of data is restricted by usage rights.
The aggregation of data in the process and the compilation time evaluation related to data quality produce an end result that does not enable identification of individual data producers. 

All employees involved in the compilation of statistics have signed a pledge of secrecy, where they have obliged to keep secret the data prescribed as confidential by virtue of the Statistics Act or the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. 

The data of the Quality of Work Life Survey are not released outside Statistics Finland in identifiable form (Statistics Act 280/2004, Personal Data Act 523/1999). Data can only be released for scientific research and statistical surveys on the basis of a separate licence and without identifiers (pseudonymised).

The data protection description is available in Finnish at:  http://www.stat.fi/meta/tietosuojaselosteet/tietosuojaseloste_tyoolotutkimus.html

Release policy

Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data on weekdays at 8 am in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data become public after they have been updated in the web service. 

The Quality of Work Life Survey produces new data every five years. The mode and time of publishing the data will be confirmed in the project set up for the implementation of the Quality of Work Life Survey.  

Data sharing

Unit-level ready-made data (i.e. microdata) are formed from the data of the Quality of Work Life Survey, which the Research services release for scientific studies and statistical surveys based on a separate licence decision and pseudonymised through the Fiona remote access system. In addition, less detailed and pseudonymised service data may be released to the funding parties of the data collection.

The questionnaire form of the Quality of Work Life Survey has been published in connection with the thematic publication containing basic results. The questions on the form may be used in studies outside Statistics Finland, but permission for their use must be requested from Statistics Finland.  

Accessibility and clarity

A release and reviews on new data of the Quality of Work Life Survey are published in Statistics Finland's web service as are database tables in the StatFin database. The releases and database tables are published in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may contain less information than the Finnish version.

Information on changes in the release schedules and database tables and corrections in them is given as change releases published in the web service.  

Data revision - policy

Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.

The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.

Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.

Quality assessment

The quality of the Quality of Work Life Survey is assessed at several different stages of the statistical process. 

Quality assurance

Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP) is used as the quality management framework for statistics. The frameworks complement each other. The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are also compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice. 
The Quality of Work Life Survey is part of official statistics. Official Statistics of Finland (OSF) are a comprehensive collection of statistics describing the development and state of society. They comprise nearly 300 sets of statistics on 26 different topics. The producers of Official Statistics of Finland have approved a common quality assurance in which they commit to common quality criteria and quality assurance measures. The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice. The good practices followed in the statistics are presented in Statistics Finland's Quality Guidelines for Official Statistics handbook. 
Every year Statistics Finland conducts statistical auditing that helps to ensure the quality of statistics. The statistical auditing of the Quality of Work Life Survey was carried out in 2015. 

Further information:  Quality management

User access

The data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published. 

Further information: Publication principles for statistics  

In the case of the Quality of Work Life Survey, an exception to this rule is formed by the funders of the data collection who against a licence application receive access to service data once they are completed before the results are published. The data are nevertheless confidential until their publication (the embargo principle, i.e. the recipient may not publish the data before the agreed time).  
Unless otherwise separately stated in connection with the product, data or service concerned, Statistics Finland is the producer of the data and the owner of the copyright. The terms of use for statistical data. 

Statistical experts

Hanna Sutela
Senior Researcher
029 551 2907

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