How much employee breaks are costing you

How much employee breaks are costing you

Tea and toilet breaks will take your staff away from their responsibilities — but have you ever stopped to consider how much employee breaks are costing your business? Retailer of paper coffee cups and disposable catering supplies, Inn Supplies has broken down the costs for you.

The regulations of breaks

It’s very easy to think that eradicating employee breaks can help you save money. You may think that taking away breaks from your employees can help save you money. However, employees are legally entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes if they work for longer than six hours in a day. Workers who smoke are also allowed smoke breaks.

Those over 16 and under 18 are allowed a longer break —30-minute breaks for every 4.5 hours they work.

However, as an employer, you only have to offer paid rest breaks if it is stipulated within your employees’ contracts.

Smoking Costs

Cigarette breaks can have a huge effect on your business costs. British Heart Foundation research showed that a full-time member of staff who smokes at work costs their employer around £1,815 a year.

Putting this on a business-wide scale, a business with a headcount of 50 could have 10 smokers, based on the fact that one in five British workers smokes. Over the course of a year, this could cost £18,150 in lost time annually.

In addition to cigarette breaks, smokers are also more prone to taking sick leave than non-smokers. Although it works out at just 70% of an extra day’s sick leave each year, it adds roughly another £50 per smoker per year to your expenses.

Trips to the toilet

Naturally your employees will need to go to the toilet, the average person would go to the toilet around 6 to 7 times a day. If we assume that 3 of the visits happen at work, each lasting around four minutes, an employee with an annual salary of £26,500 will cost you 92p per toilet trip. Over the course of the year, this works out at £662.50 — for just one employee!**

You’ll also have to consider the cost of toilet roll, soap and other bathroom essentials and maintenance, on top of the above figure. Add in these items and the cost rockets even further.

Tea, Coffee?

Tea has been a big part of the Great British diet. We spend around 24 minutes a day brewing our tea at work, that’s 188 days and 12 hours over an individual’s working life. In terms of lost time, this equates to around £400 per employee per year, assuming an average wage of £26,000. However, those on higher wages will cost your business more every time they make a cuppa.

In addition to the actual time lost, employers may be also footing the bill for the tea round. In addition to the lost time, employers tend to pay for the components such as tea bags, sugar, coffee, milk. Costing them even more over the year. Of course, this cost varies by a number of factors, including location and company size.

Between making a brew in London to brewing up in Hull, there’s a huge 21p difference. In Hull, a cuppa costs 48p to make, while London tops the scales at 69p per cup, research from Epiphany has found.

Just under half of employees tend to drink 4 or more cups of tea/coffee a day, followed by 33% who drink 1 and 3 and 20% who don’t drink any at all. Using the above costs and percentages, a business in Hull with 50 employees can expect to fork out £64.32 a day on tea and coffee supplies.* In London, this figure is even higher at £92.46 per day.


*Worked out on the basis that 25 employees (50%) will drink four cups a day and 17 employees (33%) will drink two cups a day. Two was selected as the median value from the range. These figures were then multiplied with the cost per cup to generate the final value.

**This was calculated using Plumbworld’s toilet calculator.

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