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Direct Labor Rate Variance Definition and Explanation

Direct Labor Rate Variance Definition and Explanation

When tracking the total cost incurred for a specific project, the direct labor cost must be added since it could constitute a significant portion of the project. Note that both approaches—the direct labor efficiency variance
calculation and the alternative calculation—yield the same
result. Another element this company and others must consider is a direct labor time variance. Direct Labor Rate Variance is the measure of difference between the actual cost of direct labor and the standard cost of direct labor utilized during a period. Labor yield variance arises when there is a variation in actual output from standard.

The formula calculates the differences between rates, given the number of hours worked. The labor cost per unit is obtained by multiplying the direct labor hourly rate by the time required to complete one unit of a product. For example, if the hourly rate is $16.75, and it takes 0.1 hours to manufacture one unit of a product, the direct labor cost per unit equals $1.68 ($16.75 x 0.1).

Labor efficiency variance arises when the actual hours worked vary from standard, resulting in a higher or lower standard time recorded for a given output. Because Band made 1,000 cases of books this year, employees should have worked 4,000 hours (1,000 cases x 4 hours per case). However, employees actually worked 3,600 hours, for which they were paid an average of $13 per hour. The direct labor hours are the number of direct labor hours needed to produce one unit of a product. The figure is obtained by dividing the total number of finished products by the total number of direct labor hours needed to produce them.

  1. An example is when a highly paid worker performs a low-level task, which influences labor efficiency variance.
  2. It also includes related payroll taxes and expenses such as social security, Medicare, unemployment tax, and worker’s employment insurance.
  3. If there is no difference between the standard rate and the actual rate, the outcome will be zero, and no variance exists.
  4. Actual and standard quantities and rates for direct labor for the production of 1,000 units are given in the following table.
  5. In addition to what the company pays the employees, it must consider costs to retain employees, such as payroll tax contributions, insurance premiums, and benefits costs.

Direct labor rate variance must be analyzed in combination with direct labor efficiency variance. Now, the rate variance is $4,000, though because the value is negative, it indicates that the company is spending $4,000 under what they expected to pay for labor. This also means that it is likely that the employees will receive a wage increase up to the standard rate, which can improve morale. Primarily, it reviews the differences between the expected costs of labor and the actual costs of labor. It can also aid the planning and development of new budgets and serve as a means of gaining information on company performance. Jerry (president and owner), Tom (sales manager), Lynn
(production manager), and Michelle (treasurer and controller) were
at the meeting described at the opening of this chapter.

If anything, they try to produce a favorable variance by seeing more patients in a quicker time frame to maximize their compensation potential. A direct labor variance is caused by differences in either wage rates or hours worked. As with direct materials variances, you can use either formulas or a diagram to compute direct labor variances. If the cost of labor includes benefits, and the cost of benefits has changed, then this impacts the variance.

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In addition, the difference between the actual and standard rates sometimes simply means that there has been a change in the general wage rates in the industry. Direct Labor Mix Variance is typically calculated by subtracting the actual amount of labor used from the budgeted amount, then dividing the result by the budgeted amount. There are a number of possible payintuit causes of a labor rate variance, which are noted below. After collecting the necessary information described above, you are ready to substitute the numbers into the formula to compute the rate and hours (quantity) variances. The most common causes of labor variances are changes in employee skills, supervision, production methods capabilities and tools.

Possible Causes of Direct Labor Variances

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. As mentioned earlier, the cause of one variance might influence
another variance. For example, many of the explanations shown in
Figure 10.7 might also apply to the favorable materials quantity

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Clearly, this is favorable since the actual hours worked was lower than the expected (budgeted) hours. Note that both approaches—direct labor rate variance calculation and the alternative calculation—yield the same result. The labor efficiency variance calculation presented previously
shows that 18,900 in actual hours worked is lower than the 21,000
budgeted hours.

An example is when a highly paid worker performs a low-level task, which influences labor efficiency variance. To calculate Direct Labor Mix Variance you must first identify the exact amount of labor it requires to produce a product. The labor standard may not reflect recent changes in the rates paid to employees. For example, the standard may not reflect the changes imposed by a new union contract. As mentioned earlier, the cause of one variance might influence another variance.

Direct Labor Variances FAQs

A common reason of unfavorable labor rate variance is an inappropriate/inefficient use of direct labor workers by production supervisors. During June 2022, Bright Company’s workers worked for 450 hours to manufacture 180 units of finished product. The standard direct labor rate was set at $5.60 per hour but the direct labor workers were actually paid at a rate of $5.40 per hour. Direct labor rate variance determines the performance of human resource department in negotiating lower wage rates with employees and labor unions.

In this example, the Hitech company has an unfavorable labor rate variance of $90 because it has paid a higher hourly rate ($7.95) than the standard hourly rate ($7.80). Jerry (president and owner), Tom (sales manager), Lynn (production manager), and Michelle (treasurer and controller) were at the meeting described at the opening of this chapter. Michelle was asked to find out why direct labor and direct materials costs were higher than budgeted, even after factoring in the 5 percent increase in sales over the initial budget.

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in
December 2002, United cut close to $5,000,000,000
in annual expenditures. As a result of these cost cuts, United was
able to emerge from bankruptcy in 2006. Mark P. Holtzman, PhD, CPA, is Chair of the Department of Accounting and Taxation at Seton Hall University. He has taught accounting at the college level for 17 years and runs the Accountinator website at , which gives practical accounting advice to entrepreneurs. Ask a question about your financial situation providing as much detail as possible. Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs.

For example, assume that employees work 40 hours per week, earning $13 per hour. Get the sum of the benefits and taxes (100+50) and divide the figure by 40 to get 3.75. GAAP rules provide that companies may use direct labor as a cost driver to allocate overhead expenses to the production process. Overhead costs refer to indirect costs that cannot be connected to a specific final product. However, such costs are required in the production process of goods and must, therefore, be added to the overall cost of the product. Since rate
variances generally arise as a result of how labor is used, production
supervisors bear responsibility for seeing that labor price variances are
kept under control.

In this case, the actual rate per hour is $7.50, the standard rate per hour is $8.00, and the actual hour worked is 0.10 hours per box. This is a favorable outcome because the actual rate of pay was less than the standard rate of pay. As a result of this favorable outcome information, the company may consider continuing operations as they exist, or could change future budget projections to reflect higher profit margins, among other things. With either of these formulas, the actual rate per hour refers to the actual rate of pay for workers to create one unit of product. The standard rate per hour is the expected rate of pay for workers to create one unit of product.

The easiest way to calculate the cost driver is to divide the total overhead costs by the direct labor costs. Direct labor can be broken down further to the number of employees required to manufacture a specific product or the number of employee-hours utilized per unit of production. For example, if the ratio of overhead costs to direct labor hours is $35 per hour, the company would allocate $35 of overhead costs per direct labor hour to the production output. Like direct labor rate variance, this variance may be favorable or unfavorable. On the other hand, if workers take an amount of time that is more than the amount of time allowed by standards, the variance is known as unfavorable direct labor efficiency variance.


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