In this article we will discuss about the causes of Idle time of workers. Also learn about the accounting treatment of idle time.

In the production process, lost time may occur for several reasons. The idle time is the difference between hours paid and hours worked. Where the workers are paid on time basis, the idle time is the difference between the time for which the workers were paid and that which they actually spent of production process. It is the labour time paid for but not utilized in production.

Causes of Idle Time:

The idle time is classified into two types:

(i) Normal idle time, and


(ii) Abnormal idle time.

Causes of Normal Idle Time:

A part of idle time is unavoidable and is considered as a normal occurrence in the factory.

Illustrative list is given below:


(1) Travelling time from one job or department to another,

(2) The distance covered between the factory gate and actual place of work,

(3) Elapse of time between finishing one job and starting another job,

(4) Time spent to overcome fatigue,


(5) Tea and lunch breaks, and 

(6) Machine or job setting-up time etc.

Specimen Report of Analysis of Labour Utilisation and Idle Time

Causes of Abnormal Idle Time:


The important causes for the abnormal time are given below:

(a) Temporary lack of work,

(b) Machine breakdown,

(c) Power failures,


(d) Shortage of raw materials,

(e) Waiting for tools,

(f) Waiting for jobs due to unplanned production,

(g) Stoppage of work due to managerial policy decisions,


(h) Strikes and lockouts, and 

(i) Floods, earthquakes, etc.

Accounting Treatment of Idle Time:

Normal Idle Time:

The wages paid for the normal idle time period is treated as production overhead and absorbed into cost of product by adopting an absorption rate. The normal idle time in tool setting etc. can be charged at inflated rate. Jobs are charged at inflated rate.


Abnormal Idle Time:

The wages paid for the abnormal idle time can be avoided by taking proper care and caution. It is not treated as part of cost and excluded from cost accounts and it is straight away debited to Costing Profit and Loss Account.

The reasons for the idle time are to be analyzed and the management needs to know the reasons for avoidable idle time so that correction can be formulated to reduce and minimize the idle time. An idle time report is prepared as shown in Table 6.1 for giving necessary information on idle time with an analysis of causes.