For employers, it’s likely you’re closely watching your finances, but staff breaks may be costing you more than you think.  Inn Supplies, a disposable catering and Paper cup and disposable catering specialist, has broken down the costs:

The regulations

Ignoring the topic of budgets for a moment, let’s instead focus on the number of breaks that employees are legally allowed. For employees working longer than six hours during one day they’re allowed a 20-minute, uninterrupted break. Smokers are also entitled to cigarette breaks.

Workers between the ages of 16 and 18, are allowed a 30-minute rest when working longer than 4 and a half hours.

Employers only need to offer their staff paid rest breaks when it’s specifically stipulated within their contracts.


The reality

While the usual working day day will typically include more breaks than specifically stipulated by the government, toilet and tea breaks distract your employees from their responsibilities. We’ve broken down exactly how much this costs employers:

Tea breaks

We all know that the British love tea. And we spend around 24 minutes brewing and drinking tea every day, which adds up to almost 189 hours throughout the working life of each individual. When we look at lost time, this works out to be around £400 for every employee each year, when accounting for the average wage which is £26,000. Keep in mind that staff on higher wages cost even more every time they take a tea break.

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This is also only looking at lost time, and many employees are also paying for sugar, milk, coffee and tea, which costs even more over an entire year, and this cost is dependent on many different factors, including company size and location.

Research by Epiphany revealed that there’s a huge difference (21p) between a cup of tea in London and on in Hull. In London it will cost 69P, while Hull is just 48p.

Almost half of all workers are drinking more than four cups every day, 33% drink anywhere from one to three, and only 20% avoid tea altogether. This means that a business in Hull that has 50 employees would be paying £64.32 every day on coffee and tea supplies, while in London the same sized vusiness would be paying £92.46 every day.

Smoking breaks

Next we’ll look at the impact f smokers on business costs. The British Heart Foundation found that every full-time employee smoking at work will cost their boss £1,815 every year.

Since one in five Brits at work are smoking, a business with 50 people could be made up of around 10 smokers which would cost £18,150 annually in lost time.

Keep in mind that you’re not just paying for cigarette breaks for your staff that smoke. Smokers naturally take more sick leave compared to their non-smoking colleagues, and while this is around 70% of an extra day off ill every year, this is another £50 each year that’s added to your business expenses.

Toilet breaks

We all go to the loo, and most people will visit somewhere between six and seven times every day. Assuming that around three of these visits will happen while an employee is at work and will last for approximately four minutes, employees on an average of £26,500 will cost their employees 92p for every trip to the toilet, which works out to be around £662.50 per employee. This also doesn’t include bathroom maintenance and other essentials like soap and toilet roll, which escalate these costs even further.

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*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.