About public sector employment statistics

Contextual information and guidance on the Scottish Government's public sector employment statistics.

This document is part of 2 collections

Quarterly Public Sector Employment Statistics in Scotland – Data Collection and Validation Process

Public Sector Employment Data Collection

Scottish Public Sector Employment Statistics presents quarterly headcount and full-time equivalent data for public sector employees in Scotland. The Scottish Government uses the Office for National Statistics (ONS) definitions of public sector organisations, based on National Accounts, and works with them to collect the data.

The Scottish Government collects all local government data (Joint Staffing Watch Collection) and smaller public bodies and reserved civil service offices located in Scotland (Public Bodies Employment Collection).

This data is used, along with the public bodies data collected by the Office for National Statistics (who collect estimates for the majority of public bodies – see Annex B), to produce the Public Sector Employment in Scotland collection.

Information is also obtained from NHS, MOD, Civil Service Statistics:

The Scottish public sector employment series is provided to the Office for National Statistics each quarter for publication in the UK statistical bulletin.

2.  Secure Data Collection and Validation

The accuracy of the estimates produced within the PSE series rely on data providers accurately reporting their employee headcount and full time equivalent data to the Scottish Government and Office for National Statistics.

To ensure that the data provided to the Scottish Government is as accurate as possible the following processes are followed:

  • ScotXed data exchange system

Data providers enter the data in a secure data exchange system. The ScotXed system conducts automated validation checks (comparing the most recent data to the previous quarter and year) and requests reasons where increases or decreases are greater than expected. It also ensures that the data is transferred and stored securely. See Annex A for a copy of the data returns form.

More information on the ScotXed system can be found at the ScotXEd section of this website.

Data collection guidance

Data providers are encouraged to check their data and provide it to a high degree of accuracy. We provide guidance to ensure that the data collection requirements are clear.

Data Validation

Scottish Government (SG) checks

SG check the data as we collect it, questioning anomalies with the data providers and asking for further detail on the reasons explaining any large increases or decreases, if necessary. Checks include ensuring that FTE is not higher than headcount and that the changes from the last quarter and last year are not excessive. We ask organisations to amend and resubmit the data where any errors are found. 

Sponsor team checks

For public bodies, we contact sponsor bodies (usually teams working in the Scottish Government or other government bodies with close links to the organisation) who review and confirm the data is correct. Where sponsor bodies question the data, we ask public bodies to review and revise their data or explain why the data is correct.

4. Revisions

We support data providers to revise any incorrect data to ensure ongoing accuracy of the series. The ScotXed system allows the previous quarter to be updated when entering new data and further revisions can be provided, as required.

Revisions are clearly indicated in the publications and web tables and our revision policy.

5. Data Collection and Validation Flow Chart

Annex A: ProcXed Data Returns Screen

Annex B: Office For National Statistics 

The Office for National Statistics’ Quarterly Public Sector Employment Surveys (QPSES) collect information from local government, the Civil Service and public bodies using an online survey. More information can be found at this page of the Office for National Statistics' website.


If you have any enquiries relating to Labour Market Statistics then please contact us at:

Email: LMStats@gov.scot

Telephone: 0131 244 6773

Fax: 0300 244 1060

Labour Market Statistics
OCEAES: Economic Strategy and Policy
Scottish Government
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150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

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You may also contact the Statistician Group Enquiries for general information.

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