How much do breaks at work cost businesses?

Keeping an eye on expenditures is one of the most basic, yet crucial elements to running a business. Another vital element of business-running is keeping staff happy, which means breaks are needed. But how much does the average staff break cost a business financially?

Regulations

Your employees are, of course, entitled to their break.  If your employees work for longer than six hours in a day, they are entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes. In addition, workers who smoke are entitled to cigarette breaks. Young workers over 16 and under 18, are entitled to a 30-minute rest break if they work longer than 4.5 hours. As an employer, you only have to offer paid rest breaks if it is stipulated within your employees’ contracts.

The reality

Of course, the typical working day usually includes more breaks than those outlined by the government. For example, tea and toilet breaks will all take your staff away from their responsibilities — but just how much does it cost you? We break it down:

The much-needed tea break

Our nation is one that loves its tea, whether it’s from our favourite mug or from a paper cup at our go-to takeaway. At work, we spend approximately 24 minutes each day brewing up—that’s 188 days and 21 hours over the course of 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. This only considers lost time though — many employers also foot the bill for the tea, coffee, milk and sugar, costing them even more over the course of the year. Of course, this cost varies by a number of factors, including location and company size. Research by Epiphany has found that there’s a whopping 21p difference between making a brew in London (the most expensive at 69p) and brewing up in Hull (the cheapest at 48p).

And we’re drinking a lot of brews too! Almost 50% of workers drink four or more cups a day, while 33% drink between one and three and just 20% don’t drink any. 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.

Breaks for smoking

Smokers also cost your business in terms of breaks. According to research for the British Heart Foundation, each full-time member of staff who smokes at work cost their employer £1,815 a year. Considering one in five British workers smoke, a 50-strong business could have around 10 smokers — costing £18,150 in lost time annually.

It’s not just the breaks smokers are taking that cost businesses either. 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.

Breaks for the toilet

Going to the toiler is not optional either, but it’s still a break. Most people will visit the toilet between six and seven times a day. If we assume that three of these visits occur at work, each lasting four minutes each, 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!**

There’re other costs associated with this too. This figure doesn’t consider the cost of toilet roll, soap and other bathroom essentials and maintenance. Add in these items and the cost rockets even further.

References

*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.

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/rest-breaks-work/overview

http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/5109-tea_breaks_cost_employers_dearly

http://m.wsandb.co.uk/wsb/news/2192130/tea-breaks-cost-employers-gbp300-per-employee-per-year

http://www.tiptopjob.com/displaycontent/sectionid/27/contentid/399_-survey-how-many-cups-of-coffee-and-tea-do-you-drink-in-1-day-at-work

http://www.plumbworld.co.uk/toilet-calculator

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2471058/Cigarette-breaks-add-week-work-year.html

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/smoking-breaks-cost-businesses-british-heart-foundation