Are breaks costing your business?

Often, eager entrepreneurs don’t consider how much regular breaks that your employees take will cost your business — but it’s crucial that you keep an eye on your finances. Paper coffee cup and disposable catering specialist, Inn Supplies, breaks down the costs:

What the law says

Although different employers approach breaks differently, it’s important to understand how long your staff are legally entitled to. If your employees work for longer than six hours in a day, they are entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes.

If you have staff that are over the age of 16 but are under 18, you must give them half-an-hour breaks 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.

Opposed to what most employers think, your staff aren’t entitled to smoking breaks and must complete these during their regular break times. However, many employers are flexible around this, recognising the impact this type of restriction could have on staff morale. As such, some employers have outlined rules around cigarette breaks in their employee contracts.

In the office

You can’t deny that breaks at work happen more frequently than what the government suggest. 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:

Taking tea breaks

You may limit our breaks at work, but you won’t limit the brews we have! On average, Brits drink 165 million cups of tea and 70 million cups of coffee every single day — but how does our love of hot drinks hinder our worktime productivity?

Out of 1,989 office workers in Britain, making hot drinks distracted 31% of people and made them less productive as a direct result. On average, making hot drinks takes 17 minutes per day.

Believe it or not, each year we will spend 68 hours making a hot drink at work. Assuming an average wage of £25,500, employers are paying each employee £897 per year to make hot drinks! This staggering figure is made worse when you consider that those who earn higher wages will cost your business more every time they make a cuppa.

But this only factors in lost time, think about how much your business is spending on the tea, coffee, milk and sugar. Of course, this cost varies by a number of factors, including location and company size.

London was the most expensive place to make a cup of tea, costing an average of 69p in comparison to Hull which was the cheapest with 48p. However, the Daily Mail reported in 2017 that the UK Tea and Infusions Association predicts between a 10% and 15% increase in the cost of tea, resulting from Brexit and increased pressure on growers. Based on the above figures, a 10% increase in costs could push the average cost of a cup of tea in Hull to 53p and 76p in London — leading to increased expense for employers who foot the bill.

According to research, employees in the UK drink four hot drinks each day at work. Based on the above costs, an employee’s hot drink habit costs employers £2.12 per day in Hull and £3.04 per day in London. Based on a headcount of 50, Hull businesses could be shelling out £106 per day on hot drink supplies alone, while the figure increases to £152 for businesses of the same size in London.

Eating snacks

There’s no stopping your staff from snacking during the working day either. Usually, employees will cover the cost of these snacks themselves, but how much are they costing you in time while you work?

This is the seventh most common distraction too and takes away productivity for eight minutes. While your employees spend these eight minutes snacking, the cost to you is £1.76 per employee, based on the average UK salary. Over the course of a year, this amounts to £422 per employee. For a business with a headcount of 50, the total yearly cost of workplace snacking is £21,120!

Taking smoking breaks

Do regular smoking breaks have an impact? 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 — based on four cigarette breaks per day, each lasting 10 minutes. In total, smokers are costing British businesses a huge £8.4 billion!

Considering one in five British workers smoke, a 50-strong business could have around 10 smokers — costing £18,150 in lost time annually. As one in five people in the UK smoke, businesses with 50 people can see a bill of £18,150 each year.

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.

A trip to the bathroom

You can’t stop your employees from going to the bathroom. 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 £25,500 will cost you 66p per toilet trip — or £2.64 per day. Over the course of the year, this works out at £633.60 — for just one employee!*

Remember additional expenses can be toilet roll, soap and water costs!