Cost Accounting

What is Direct Labour Cost Variance

Direct labour cost variance refers to the standard cost of direct labour for the actual number of units produced less the actual cost.

A total variance might have been caused by two factors: either the difference in the number of labour hours that are being used or by a difference in the wages paid to labour.

Types of Labour Cost Variances

Because two different factors are affecting the total direct labour cost variance, they must be divided into the following 2 types:

  1. Direct labour rate variance: This is the difference between the standard and actual cost of labour for the actual number of hours worked.
  2. Direct labour efficiency variance: This is the difference between the actual and standard number of hours for the actual number of units, valued at the standard wage rate.

The following are the formulas for calculating each of these variances:

  1. Direct labour rate variance:

    Actual number of hours x (Actual labour rate – Standard labour rate)
  2. Direct labour efficiency variance:

    Standard labour rate x (Actual number of hours worked – Standard number of hours worked)
  3. Total labour cost variance:

    Direct labour rate variance + Direct labour efficiency variance

For example, the following information is given about a product:

  • Actual number of hours worked: 780 hours 
  • Actual cost: $2418
  • Standard cost: $2340
  • Number of units produced: 200 
  • Standard number of hours worked: 800 hours

The direct labour rate variance = 40 – 2418 = adverse

The direct labour efficiency variance = (800 – 780)= favourable

The direct material cost variance = $18 adverse

Where appropriate records exist, an idle time variance can be calculated by multiplying the hours of idle time by the standard rate. The variance is calculated in this way, and efficiency variance becomes the labour efficiency variance.

Who is responsible for Direct Labour Cost Variance?

The responsibility for Direct Labour Cost Variance lies primarily with the production or operations department of a company. This department is responsible for managing and overseeing the labour costs associated with the production process.

The production or operations department is responsible for ensuring that labour is used efficiently and effectively, monitoring workforce productivity, and controlling labour costs within established standards. They are typically involved in setting labour budgets, determining standard labour hours, monitoring actual hours worked, and analyzing variances to identify areas for improvement in order to control costs and maximize efficiency in the production process.

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