Home Business Corporate Figuring out the Costs of Breaks at Work to a Business

Figuring out the Costs of Breaks at Work to a Business

7 min read

A business needs to have a good control over its costs and cash flows if it desires to survive. One may have strong internal controls to keep the costs related to stock and other tings low and other things but how would one control intangible factors like breaks at work costs low? Disposable catering specialist Inn Supplies, and Paper cup answer this question for you.

The Laws and Regulations

Before we begin talking budgets, let’s discuss how many breaks your employees are entitled to. 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 fewer than 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.

In 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:

Breaks for Tea

Britain is a nation of tea lovers. 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).

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.


Smoking Zones at work

How much impact do smokers have on your 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.
Considering one in five British workers smoke, a 50-strong business could have around 10 smokers — costing £18,150 in lost time annually.

However, it’s not just their cigarette breaks that you’re forking out for; smokers also take more 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 Breaks

Going to the loo is natural. 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! **

Of course, 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.



*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 by the cost per cup to generate the final value.

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

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