The Money We Make When We’re Not At Work

In the UK, we usually say that a working week is between 35 and 40 hours. However, we all know that these are just ball-park figures and even strict employers say that it’s unrealistic to expect 100% productivity from employees. In reality, there are numerous distractions that we face every day which reduce the actual amount of time we work.

So, what are our real working hours? Inn Supplies, a leading soup containers retailer, has researched how much money we earn when we’re doing nothing, whether it’s because of toilet breaks, holidays or lateness. Check out how much time goes into work distractions and find out your real working hours!

Toilet breaks

Employee earns: £57.60 per month.

Employer loses: £2,880 per month.

Of course, you don’t have money taken off you for visiting the toilet during your shift — but how does this work out money-wise? On average, we go to the toilet six or seven times a day. Basing our calculations on the average employee visiting the loo three times at work, with each lasting four minutes, you’ll earn 96p each time you go to the toilet!

What does this mean from an employer’s perspective? If we imagine that a company has a workforce of 50, the total cost lost through toilet breaks each day is £144 — money that is literally going down the toilet! 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.


Employee earns: £23.25 per month.

Employer loses: £186 per month.

We all try to be early, or at least on time, for work. There’s nothing worse than running in late during a morning meeting or having to make up the time at the end of the day. But how can lateness affect your employer’s finances?  

To find out, we read a study that was carried out in 2012. It suggests that a late employee loses 97 minutes per month on average. Assuming that the employee has an average UK salary of £27,600, they will earn £14.38 per hour. With this in mind, 97 minutes of lateness costs employers £23.25 in lost time, per employee, per month.

However, this is only one study, what does other research say? A more recent report by CareerBuilder has found that 16% of employees are late on a weekly basis. 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!

Smoking breaks

Employee earns: £151.25 per month.

Employer loses: £1,512.50 per month.

Although the amount of people smoking is dropping, there are still plenty of people in any office or factory that does it as a lifestyle choice. According to a study, employees who smoke cost their employer £1,815 over the course of the year. When you consider that 20% of British workers smoke, a company with 50 employees could shell out £18,150 over the course of the year on cigarette breaks.


Employee earns: £72 per month.

Employer loses: £2,016 per month.

General distraction can also cost money — particularly if that distraction is a mobile phone. A survey by CareerBuilder has found that 55% of employees use their mobile phone for personal use in the workplace.

But how do we know whether this is a half-an-hour conversation or a check-up that takes less than a minute? We don’t. 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 £3.60 to each employee every day to use their mobiles. If 55% of 50 employees use their phones for this duration, the cost to the employer is £100.80 each day. Over the course of the year, this will come to £23,386.

Medical appointments

Employee earns: £14.38 per appointment.

Employer loses: £179.75 per month.

Doctor appointments are often unavoidable and many employers are more than happy to accommodate you taking time to check on your health. But how much do these appointments cost? Generally, in one year, we visit our GP six times, with each appointment lasting ten minutes. Of course, the actual time we’re away from our desk is much longer than this, considering time spent travelling to the surgery and in the waiting room itself.

So, what is the cost of a doctor’s appointment and how do we work this out? According to research by, we spend an average of 21 minutes in the doctor’s waiting room. If we assume travelling to and from the surgery will take around 30 minutes in total, this — added to the ten-minute consultation time — means we’re away from our desks for around an hour each time we visit the doctors, costing employers the hourly rate of £14.38.

This means that workers can ‘earn’ £43.14 over the course of the year — on the assumption that three of the six yearly GP appointments will take place during working hours — while employers could lose £2,157 per year on doctor’s appointments alone (for a workforce of 50).

Total amount

Looking at the figures above, it’s clear that employers are losing out financially when it comes to these work disruptions. In total, non-smoking employees ‘earn’ £1,877.34 from lateness, toilet breaks, doctors’ appointments, and distractions over the course of a year. For smokers, this figure is even higher at £3,692. The total cost is a staggering £79,333 per year for employers with 50 staff members, which is a large amount for what we consider to be small interruptions to our working day.  


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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.