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How much you pay your employees to do nothing

It’s unreasonable to think that the standard 40-hour working week will be spent tirelessly working. In fact, even the strictest employers think it’s irrational to demand 100% productivity.

After all, from toilet breaks to doctor appointments, life often gets in the way. For employers, it means that you’re actually paying your employees to not work.

Weighing up the costs across lateness, toilet breaks, cigarette breaks, doctor appointments and distractions is Inn Supplies, a retailer of soup containers.

Arriving late

From time-to-time, lateness is unavoidable, although some are worse at timekeeping than others. However, have you stopped to consider that one late employee loses 97 minutes each month on average? Assuming an average UK salary of £27,600, employees on this pay scale earn £14.38 per hour. With this in mind, 97 minutes of lateness costs employers £23.25 in lost time per employee each month.

16% of employees are late weekly, a study from CareerBuilder has found. This means that in a business with 50 employees, eight employees are late each week. Assuming this lateness equates to the monthly average of 97 minutes, this could cost a business around £186 each month just on employee lateness.

Employee earns: £23.25 per month.

Employer loses: £186 per month.

Employees who smoke

Employees who smoke will take cigarette breaks at intervals through the day. A study found that employees who smoke cost their employer £1,815 over the course of the year.

A fifth of British workers smoke, meaning that in a business with a 50-strong team, the associated cost of cigarette breaks for employers could be £18,150.

Employee earns: £151.25 per month.

Employer loses: £1,512.50 per month.

Going to the toilet

We’ll make six or seven trips to the toilet a day on average. Basing our calculations on the average employee visiting the loo three times at work, with each lasting four minutes, they’ll cost you 96p each time they go to the toilet.

Over the course of a day in a 50-strong business, this cost amounts to £144. Excluding holidays, there are 232 working days in the average year. Over this time, a company of this size can expect to spend £33,408 on toilet breaks alone.

Employee earns: £57.60 per month.

Employer loses: £2,880 per month.

Visiting the doctor

The average person visits their doctor six times per year on average. Appointments usually last 10 minutes, but research from has shown that 21 minutes is spent in the waiting room. Assuming an average journey time there and back of thirty minutes and employees are away from their desk for roughly an hour—costing an employer £14.38.

If we assume half of the total yearly appointments will occur during work time, employers with a workforce of 50 face a cost of £2,157 for doctor’s appointments alone.

Employee earns: £14.38 per appointment.

Employer loses: £179.75 per month.

Digital distractions

55% of employees use their mobile phone for personal use in the workplace, according to one CareerBuilder survey. Of course, it’s unknown just how much time is wasted on mobile phones. However, if we assume that 15 minutes each day is spent on mobile phones at work — be it calling, texting or using social media — employers are paying out £3.60 to each employee each day on mobile phone use.

If 55% of 50 employees use their mobile phones for this amount of time, the cost to the employer is £100.80 each day. Over the course of the year, this equates to £23,386.

Employee earns: £72 per month.

Employer loses: £2,016 per month.


So just how much does this all add up to? For employers with 50 staff members, the total cost of all of the above is a staggering £79,333 per year, giving new meaning to the phrase time is money!