Inn Supplies reveals the cost of employee work breaks


In order to run a successful business, two things need to be considered. One, the costs of running, and two, the cash flow that will support this. As you’re adding up the costs, you may be surprised at the different elements that are costing your business — one of which is employee breaks. They’re not optional, but you still need to be aware of the cost.

Paper table cloths supplier, Inn Supplies explores further. 

Regulations surrounding breaks 

First, we’ll look at the laws and regulations regarding breaks in the workplace. If your employees are working for over 6 hours per day then that means they’re entitled to a break of 20 minutes uninterrupted. Employees that smoke are entitled to cigarette breaks too. Members of the workforce that are aged between 16-18 years old are entitled to a 30-min break if they work for over 4 and a half hours. Employers need only offer paid breaks to staff if it’s stipulated within the employees’ contracts.

Beyond the basics 

It’s rare that a workplace only runs the bare minimum of breaks, however. For example, coffee breaks along with toilet breaks can also hit your business in the pocket. But just exactly how much do break cost you?

Totalling up tea breaks 

We adore our tea in Britain. At work we’re spending just over 24 minutes every single day, brewing up. That works out at just under 189 days over the course of the average person’s working life. What does this mean to a business? Well in terms of lost time alone, this equated to £400 per employee per year! (Based on an average wage of £26,000) – however those on higher wages will cost you even more!

That’s just the cost of 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). 

We’re certainly drinking our share too. 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.

Breaks for smoking 

The fairness of smoking breaks is often a hot topic in the workplace. 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.

Along with the price of breaks, smokers tend to take more sick days too, at further cost. 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.

Nipping to the toilet 

We can’t not let people go to the loo! 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 with the cost per cup to generate the final value.

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