Money for nothing: what you earn when you’re not working

The standard working week is 40 hours — but how much of that do you actually work? Even the strictest of employers know it’s unrealistic to expect 100% productivity from their employees. In reality, the working day poses many distractions that can take you away from the task in hand — and there might be more than you think.

Paper cup retailer Inn Supplies has been thinking about the money we earn for nothing, whether it’s through toilet breaks, holidays or lateness. Here, they tot up the money we earn without lifting a finger:


Whether it’s struggling through the commute or arriving back from lunch a little later, lateness happens to us all. However, for some, it’s a more common occurrence.

Back in 2012, a study found that a single late employee loses 97 minutes per 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.

A more recent study 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.

Employee earns: £23.25 per month.

Employer loses: £186 per month.

Toilet breaks

You may not think it, but when nature calls you’re actually making money! On average, we’ll 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.

For employers with a workforce of 50, the total cost lost through toilet breaks each day is £144 — and it’s 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 alone.

Employee earns: £57.60 per month.

Employer loses: £2,880 per month.

Cigarette breaks

If you’re a smoker, you’ll likely take cigarette breaks during the working day. A study found that employees who smoke cost their employer £1,815 over the course of the year.

When you consider that one in five British workers smoke, a company with 50 employees could shell out £18,150 over the course of the year on cigarette breaks alone.

Employee earns: £151.25 per month.

Employer loses: £1,512.50 per month.

Doctor appointments

Over the course of a year, we’ll visit our GP six times on average, with each appointment lasting 10 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.

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 10 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.

On the assumption that three of the six yearly GP appointments will take place during working hours, employees stand to earn £43.14 over the course of the year. For a workforce of 50, employers could lose £2,157 per year on doctor’s appointments alone.

Employee earns: £14.38 per appointment.

Employer loses: £179.75 per month.


Of course, it’s not just tardiness, personal comfort and our health that can lead us away from our desks. We face a number of distractions on a daily basis. The most common? Our mobile phones.

A survey by CareerBuilder has found that 55% of employees use their mobile phone for personal use in the workplace. 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.


Now that we know how much each of the above cost, just how much are employees earning each year by doing very little — and how much are employers losing?

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, once the associated costs of cigarette breaks are factored in. For employers with 50 staff members, the total cost is a staggering £79,333 per year, giving new meaning to the phrase time is money.


Views: 170

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on September 23, 2017 at 1:06pm

Perhaps we could emphasize work-related as opposed to time-related hours.  

Determine what a typical person in that role should be able to do in 8 hours, and let them know that when it's satisfactorily done, they should leave (Thy won't be given more to do.) 


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2023   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service