How much employee breaks are costing you


Back soon on sticky note on work table


Monitoring your finances is an important part of operating any business, giving you clear visibility of your incomings, outgoings and ultimately your bottom line.

But, have you ever stopped to consider how much employee breaks are costing your business? Retailer of paper cups and disposable catering supplies, Inn Supplies has broken down the costs for you:


Breaks at work: the regulations

It’s very easy to think that eradicating employee breaks can help you save money. However, employees are legally entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes if they work for longer than six hours in a day. In addition, workers who smoke are entitled to cigarette 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.


The reality of breaks at work

While the government outlines are one thing, the typical working day usually takes your employees away from their desk for longer than stated above. For example, tea and toilet breaks will all take your staff away from their responsibilities — but just how much does it cost you?

Time for tea

Tea is a staple of the Great British diet. 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.

In addition to the actual time lost, employers may be also footing the bill for the tea round. Many employers also pay 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.

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 will drink four or more cups per day, followed by 33% who drink between one and three. 20% 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.

The costs of cigarettes

Smoking breaks can significantly impact your total business costs. 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.

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.

Toilet trips

Your employees will naturally need to visit the toilet. Most people will go to the loo 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!**

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.



*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.




Site Policy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *