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Employment status

Employment status

The Employment status field describes the learner’s employment status and has the following categories:

  • Code 10 In paid employment

  • Code 11 Not in paid employment, looking for work and available to start work

  • Code 12 Not in paid employment, not looking for work and/or not available to start work

  • Code 98 Not known/not provided

Employment status is required for ESF match funding so you must only return an employment status of “Not known/not provided” (code 98) in exceptional circumstances.

Date employment status applies

Each employment status record must have an associated Date employment status applies.

There can only be one record for any given date and therefore only one employment status for a learner on any given date.

Employer identifier

The Employer identifier must be recorded for every learner who is employed at the start of learning and is undertaking an apprenticeship or ESF funded learning aim.

If the learner is unemployed at the start of an apprenticeship programme and subsequently becomes employed, then a new record must be returned with the Employer identifier.

If a learner was employed with a different employer prior to starting their apprenticeship programme, then a new record must be returned with the Employer identifier of the new employer with whom they are undertaking the apprenticeship.

A valid Employer identifier from the Employer Data Service (EDS) must be obtained if the apprentice is employed at a school or academy.

Please use the Employer identifier of the school if this is the learner’s place of work and not the Employer identifier as the local authority.

Employment status monitoring

The Employment Status Monitoring fields should be completed with the relevant monitoring type where applicable.

For 16-19 funded learners, only the Employment intensity indicator (EII) must be completed. No other employment status monitoring is required for these learners.

There are seven Employment status monitoring types. The details of when you should return these against each employment status code is as follows:

  • Self-employment indicator (SEI), code 10 if applicable

  • Employment intensity indicator (EII), code 10

  • Length of unemployment (LOU), code 11, 12

  • Length of employment (LOE), code 10 returned for all apprentices

  • Benefit status indicator (BSI), code 10,11, 12 if applicable

  • Previous education indicator (PEI), code 10, 11, 12 if applicable

  • Small employer (SEM) code 10 if applicable for apprenticeships only

Recording employment status

Data about a learner’s employment status is collected in the ILR to demonstrate how the FE sector is contributing to improving the employability of the learners. This data is also used to monitor funding eligibility and so care must be taken to ensure that employment status records are completed accurately.

An Employment status record must be created for all adult learners, apart from OLASS funded learners and those with only Community Learning funded learning aims. Employment status records are required for all apprenticeship and ESF funded learners of all ages.

16-19 funded learners on part-time programmes of study (with less than 540 planned learning hours in the teaching year) must have an Employment status record. This record must include the Employment intensity indicator (EII) type and relevant code in the Employment Status Monitoring fields.

Data about a learner’s employment status prior to enrolment must be collected in all cases when a learner first enrols with a provider. There is no defined time period for “prior to enrolment”, unless defined by the learner’s programme. If there is any doubt as to what should be recorded, you are expected to use your judgement based on the individual learner’s circumstances.


If a 16-year-old has left education in July and enrolled on a course the following September, they would be classed as previously in education.

If a learner is employed and has been on holiday or otherwise temporarily away from a job prior to starting a learning aim, they should be classed as being ‘In paid employment’.

The Employer identifier field is not collected for an Employment status prior to enrolment, unless the learner is entering into an apprenticeship with that employer.

You should only send records that relate to a learner’s current learning. You must ensure that the ‘Date employment status applies’ of the earliest Employment status record is before the earliest learning aim start date (from the Learning start date or, if completed, the Original learning start date) recorded for the learner.

You should not send historic employment status records that have a ‘Date employment status applies’ that is earlier than the employment status record that applies immediately before the earliest learning aim start date for the learner. You must return all employment status records with a date subsequent to this.

For traineeship work placements, data about the work placement employer must be recorded in the Work placement record.

Collecting employment status data

It is recommended that you collect learner employment status data through the use of a number of layered questions, similar to the approach taken for surveys. If possible, the questions should be asked in person during enrolment. An example of layered questions is provided below, the ordering of these question is important, i.e. Q1 must be asked first.

Example of layered question approach

Q1) Did you do any paid work before joining the course, either as an employee or as self-employed? Yes/No

Q2) You said you were not doing any paid work before this course – were you looking for paid work? Yes/No

Q3) Which of the following types of benefit are you claiming?

Jobseekers Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (Work Related Activity Group)

Universal Credit

Any other state benefit (includes all state benefits not just those related to unemployment)?

Q4) How long have you been out of work?

Either provide the bands on the ILR or let learner give a number and define bands later

Q5) You said you were doing some paid work – in your main job, were you?

An employee


Q6) How many hours per week do you work?

Either provide the bands on the ILR or let the learner give a number and define bands later

Q7) For apprentices only: How long have you been in employment with your current employer prior to starting your apprenticeship?

Either provide the bands on the ILR or let learner give a number and define bands later

Q8) Were you in full-time education before starting this course? Yes/No

Updating the employment status

New employment status records should be added for a learner in the following circumstances:

  • For all learners with employment status records, if there is a change in a learner’s employer, employment status or employment status monitoring (for example, a change in the learner’s benefit status) during their learning or at the start of a new learning aim or programme

  • For 16-19 funded learners, at the start of each teaching year if the details have changed since the previous teaching year

If there has been no change in the learner’s employment status, employer, or employment monitoring since the previous employment status record was added then a new record does not need to be returned.

Where the only change since the previous employment status record is the length of employment (LOE) or length of unemployment (LOU), then a new employment status record does not need to be added.

A learner may undertake several learning aims within a single learning agreement or plan, there is no need to review or add new employment records at the start of each aim.

Validation rules prevent consecutive employment status records being returned where the only change since the previous record is the Date employment status applies.

Learner eligibility

You must ensure that the learner meets any employment related eligibility criteria for the learning aims being undertaken and that the learner’s employment and benefit status prior to starting their learning is recorded accurately.

The ESFA will use the employment status data to monitor funding eligibility for adult skills fully funded learning as follows:

  • Learners in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance (BSI code 1)

  • Learners in receipt of Universal Credit (BSI code 4) are eligible for full funding where they are determined by Jobcentre Plus (JCP) as being in one of the following groups: All Work-Related Requirements Group, Work Preparation Group, or Work-Focussed Interview Group

  • Learners in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (BSI code 5)

  • Learner is in receipt of other state benefits (BSI 6)