INDIRECT LABOR: Definition, Examples and Costs

indirect labor

In order to boost efficiency, a company’s indirect labor allocation defines who it needs to hire. Companies budget for indirect labor expenditures if they require assistance outside of the production crew. When a corporation identifies which functions it requires assistance with, it is more likely to streamline corporate operations and fulfill its objectives. In this post, we will look at what indirect labor is, the cost, the distinction between indirect and direct labor, and several examples of indirect labor.

What Is Labour?

Labor is the cost of paying your employees. This cost includes all employee-related expenses, such as payroll taxes, sick and vacation time, and any other benefits they may be eligible for. If you have staff, you have labor expenditures regardless of the type of business you own.
Calculating labor costs, on the other hand, is insufficient. You should calculate both direct and indirect labor to gain a better view of your company’s health. There are several reasons why these two labor costs must be estimated correctly:

Tracking direct labor costs will help you understand how efficiently your people are working and how quickly they can manufacture a product.

  • More precise product pricing: Both direct and indirect labor costs should be included when determining precise product prices. That is why it is critical to consider both direct and indirect expenses when making price decisions.
  • Product profitability levels: If you simply make one product, you can readily determine whether or not it is profitable. Direct and indirect labor expenses, on the other hand, can play a substantial influence in determining individual product profitability for organizations that manufacture more than one product.
  • Financial statement accuracy: Financial statements are critical for understanding your present financial situation. Running a balance sheet or income statement, on the other hand, does not provide any fresh insights if the information contained in the statements is incorrect.

Tracking direct and indirect labor expenditures is critical for all business owners, especially those that make items. The good news is that if you or your bookkeeper use accounting software, much of the heavy lifting is done for you.

What is Indirect Labor?

Indirect labor is defined as labor that is not directly tied to the manufacture of a product. For example, once a product is finished, the salespeople you hire are responsible for marketing it, but because they were not engaged in its creation, they are considered indirect labor.

Depending on the circumstances, indirect labor expenses can be fixed or variable. Administrative personnel, maintenance personnel, accounting personnel, and supervisors are all examples of indirect labor in a manufacturing setting.

Indirect labor costs, like direct labor costs, must be tracked. In the case of indirect labor, however, the expense is recorded as overhead rather than the cost of products sold.

How to Determine Indirect Labor

To determine indirect labor costs, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the number of hours that employees worked.
  2. Subtract each employee’s time off.
  3. Multiply the total number of hours worked by the hourly wage.
  4. Include the annual salary of your staff in your estimates.

#1. Determine the number of hours worked by employees.

To begin your computation, find out how many hours each indirect labor employee worked. The number of hours worked by employees reveals how much time they spent on tasks other than production. Accountants can use their accounting software and records to determine how many hours each department’s employees worked. They can distinguish between employees who worked in production and those who worked in other departments in order to calculate the number of indirect labor hours accurately.

#2. Subtract each employee’s time off.

If paid time off is part of the employee’s remuneration package, account for it. Factoring in paid time off guarantees that it is not counted as part of an employee’s hours worked, which enhances the calculation’s accuracy. Employees may get paid sick leave or be compensated for attending training or conferences on behalf of the company, which would also be excluded from the calculation.

#3. Divide the total number of hours worked by the hourly compensation of hourly employees.

Multiply the number of hours worked by an hourly employee in a year by their hourly wage. Making this computation allows the company to determine how much indirect labor it pays for one employee. If the person worked 1,715 total hours for $15 per hour last year, multiply 1,715 by 15, and you pay $25,725 for one employee. Calculate this for all hourly employees and add it to your indirect labor costs.

#4. Include the annual salary of your staff in your calculations.

Total the annual salary paid by the company to salaried staff. Companies must perform this step after completing steps one through four in order to compare the overall indirect labor costs for hourly employees and salaried staff.

Once you’ve completed those processes, you may compare them to your overhead costs to see whether you need to change your spending. Determine the number of paid employees in the organization to determine how many salaries to add to the hourly employee computation.

Indirect Labor Examples

Following are some examples of indirect labor:

  • Production supervisor
  • Security
  • Marketing
  • Human Capital

#1. Production supervisor

Production managers supervise a team of people to guarantee that all components of projects are completed on time. They give employees precise instructions and expectations about the manufacturing process, as well as the actions they must take to complete their responsibilities. If clients notify them of changes to the scope of projects, they can notify staff.

#2. Security

A security guard ensures that the workplace is safe for employees to do their jobs. They can patrol the building to detect unusual activities and determine whether it constitutes a threat to employees. They may work morning or evening shifts to ensure the building is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

#3. Marketing

When a company’s products and services are released to the public, marketing employees promote them. They create and distribute the material on their company’s social media accounts, and they optimize it so that users can find it on search engine results pages (SERPs). Marketing experts evaluate engagement performance to check if they’re reaching their target audience and make changes to their company’s marketing plan based on the findings.

#4. Human Capital

Employees in human resources recruit, interview, and hire candidates for various departments. They identify the optimum payroll and benefits structure to reward employees and collaborate with management on best practices for employee training and development. To reflect business policy, human resources can update the employee handbook.

Why Is It Vital To Comprehend Indirect Labor?

Indirect labor is an important component of a company’s success. Companies should understand the value of indirect labor since it helps measure profitability and helps determine prices for products and services.

For example, if a company hires an accountant, the accountant is in charge of reviewing reports that describe the company’s financial operations. They can establish if a company is functioning successfully and provide advice on how to proceed with spending after documenting all transactions from all divisions.

Accountants are indirect laborers because they make judgments that affect the performance of the organization without providing products or services. The accountant’s annual salary is the indirect labor cost for the person who assists the business in determining how to control spending in the future.

Knowing the value of indirect labor enables a corporation to add overhead fees to its products and services. They can add all overhead charges to the cost per unit sold. This computation assists businesses in determining the final cost charged to the client. Because you’re adding overhead charges to the production cost, the cost of a product may arise. A corporation may need to raise the price of a product in order to compensate for all indirect labor employees.

What Is the Distinction Between Direct and Indirect Labor?

Labor costs are remuneration paid to employees by the company in the form of wages, salary bonuses, allowances, and so on for their time and effort.

They are typically divided into direct and indirect labor costs based on the worker’s contribution to the manufacturing process. While direct labor refers to work performed on specific items or services, indirect labor refers to employee effort that cannot be linked back or billed to services or things produced.

For example, hairstylists at a salon who provide haircuts and other services are considered direct labor, whereas maintenance personnel and receptionists who assist them are considered indirect labor.

BasisDirect Labor CostIndirect Labor Cost
MeaningThe cost which is directly involved in the productionNot involved in the production
OutputDepends on the outputDoes not vary directly in proportion to the output
SeparationIt can be separated into unit cost, cost, or cost centerCannot be traced back and separated
PaymentDirect expenditureIndirect expenditure
CostPart of prime costsOverhead costs
ControlControlled through the technique of standard costingControlled through budgetary control

Is Indirect Labor a Conversion Cost?

Indirect labor is a component of conversion cost. It is categorized as an overhead and refers to costs that cannot be directly linked to specific products or services.

Conversion costs are the expenses (both direct and indirect) incurred in the process of converting raw resources into final products. It is the total of a company’s labor and overhead expenditures.

Direct Labor + Manufacturing Overhead = Conversion Costs

Is Indirect Labor a Fixed Cost?

Fixed costs are business expenses that stay consistent regardless of the nature of the firm. The costs of indirect labor might be either constant or variable. For example, the manager’s compensation is fixed and must be paid regardless of business activity.

Certain employees’ salaries, such as hourly-paid administrative assistants, may be variable, meaning they may grow or decrease at different times of the year.

Is There Overhead in Indirect Labor?

Overhead refers to the costs of running a business that is not directly related to producing a product or providing a service. It is the total of indirect costs, indirect labor, and indirect material.

Indirect labor is classified as an overhead since it cannot be assigned to a specific project or service.

As a small business owner, it’s critical to set your service and product prices high enough to pay your production expenses, turn a profit, and remain competitive. Keeping track of direct and indirect labor costs can assist you in exercising rigorous control over labor costs and identifying possible areas for cost.

Tracking direct and indirect labor expenditures is critical for any company.

While measuring both direct and indirect labor costs is normal practice for bigger firms, smaller businesses can benefit as well. Among the advantages are:

  • Financial reporting that is accurate
  • Improved budgeting
  • Pricing that is more precise

Keep in mind that even service organizations can benefit from tracking direct and indirect labor expenditures. While it may appear to be a lot of extra work, especially for a small business, effectively managing these charges will provide you with a much clearer picture of your company’s financial health.


Indirect labor is critical to overall business operations since it is involved in every stage of the business, such as the procurement of raw materials, the handling of raw materials and completed goods, and their oversight, as well as the organization of all infrastructure necessary for production, allocating all costs to their cost center, marketing and advertising the product, and selling finished products. They are, however, not directly related to the transformation of raw materials into final commodities.

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