Personnel costs

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Personnel costs (or personnel costs ; english staff costs ) are accounting costs , which through the use of workers in the production process caused.


Personnel costs in many corporate types , the most important cost . It is triggered by the use of the production factor labor . As a planned activity, the work transforms a work object into an ideally predetermined, desired work result , which represents a marketable product . The work object is a combination of material ( raw , auxiliary and operating materials ) and immaterial goods ( information , work instructions , decisions ), which are converted into a marketable product as part of a work process. In the work process, work aids (so-called potential factors ) can be used repetitively that support human work performance, but without going into the product themselves (e.g. tools, computers). That part of the transformation of work objects into a product that is due to human activity in production is called personnel costs.


Work therefore has a price in the form of remuneration ( wages ) which, from an operational perspective, represents costs. Decisive for the allocation of costs to the cost type personnel costs is the labor law function as an employee in the company. In addition to the bulk of the workforce, this also includes trainees , interns and executives through to the board of directors and management . Workers do not include workers such as sales representatives , subcontractors , workers with their labor subsidies, or agency workers . According to the prevailing opinion , expenses for temporary workers are expressly not assigned to personnel expenses. The reason for this is that the personnel expenses require a legal employment relationship. Since temporary workers are legally employed by an external company, they do not fall under personnel expenses. Expenses for temporary workers are therefore to be shown under other operating expenses.

Types of staff costs

The personnel costs can be broken down as follows according to the reason for them:

Ancillary staff costs have become increasingly important. They amount to at banks up to 98% of gross earnings, lying in the industry up to 80%, and in retail at approximately 70%.

Types of incidental personnel costs:

Personnel costs can contain both fixed costs ( costs of work capacity , administrative staff) and variable cost components (piecework wages). Where they are directly attributable to the cost unit, they belong to the direct costs ; an allocation to the products is required for overhead costs .

Recording and posting

The simultaneous and real-time automatic recording of the individual personnel costs is the only suitable approach to arrive at an authentic database. Any self-recording will be distorted by the interests of those involved and does not allow any revision-proof recalculation. This requires at least the recording of individual activities using methods of time recording for start times , with subsequent distribution times being assigned to the ongoing activity.

The main posting rate for wage and salary payments is:

   * Lohnaufwand (Bruttolohn) an
     ** Bankkonto
     ** Zugang Lohnsteuerverbindlichkeit
     ** Zugang Verbindlichkeit Sozialversicherung (Arbeitnehmeranteil)
   * Aufwand aus gesetzlichen Sozialversicherungskosten an
     ** Zugang Verbindlichkeit Sozialversicherung (Arbeitgeberanteil)

Key figures

Personnel cost indicators are business indicators which, as ratios, "relativize absolute personnel cost values". They are of general interest and the subject of public discussion. Since personnel costs are usually the most important cost type alongside material costs, they are subject to special monitoring.

Common key figures in connection with personnel costs are, in addition to the personnel expense ratio, the personnel intensity:

Companies with high material intensity usually have a low personnel intensity and vice versa, as there is a high negative correlation between the two . Personnel-intensive companies include those in which the proportion of personnel costs in total costs or sales revenue is over 50%. This is particularly true in the metal industry , electrical engineering or road construction , where the share of sales is at least 20% and the share of gross profit is at least 60%. There is also a high level of personnel intensity in the service sector , in trade and craft . Personnel-intensive companies are very sensitive to (collectively agreed) wage and salary changes. At the same time, such companies are prone to fluctuations in employment , especially with fixed personnel costs. There are cost retentions , particularly in the case of personnel costs , due to statutory or contractual notice periods , which means that personnel cannot be reduced as quickly as sales are falling.

The average personnel costs per employee are also of general interest:

This average figure indicates how high the average annual income per employee is and can be used when comparing companies in the same industry. However, their informative value decreases when the income gap in a company is large. As part of personnel controlling, productivity and flexibility in the personnel area can be increased and personnel costs and absenteeism can be reduced.


The income statement differentiates for the total cost method in Section 275 (2) No. 6 a) HGB between “wages and salaries” and “social contributions and expenses for pensions and support” (Section 275 (2) No. 6 b) HGB). The addition to the pension provisions is therefore part of the personnel costs. In the cost of sales method , § 285 No. 8 b) HGB applies . If your own personnel is used to repair or maintain production systems, this must be offset against the item capitalized internal work . The use of employees for their own work causes expenses that are not part of the actual production process. For this reason, Section 275 (2) No. 3 HGB provides for the total cost method that the personnel (and material costs) incurred for own work must be neutralized again by the income item “other own work capitalized”. As a result, the operating result is corrected by processes that have nothing to do with the actual performance of the service. Without correction, the operating result would be worse (lower profit or higher loss). Under the item Section 275 (2) No. 5 b) of the German Commercial Code (HGB) or Section 275 (3) No. 2 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) the wages and salaries for external workers are shown, insofar as they represent expenses for services obtained from third parties and are economically allocated to the cost of materials.


The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) do not have any special regulations on the concept of personnel expenses. According to IAS 1.91, personnel expenses are to be shown separately in the income statement when using the total cost method, while IAS 1.93 requires additional information on personnel expenses when using the cost of sales method. An exact breakdown of personnel expenses is not prescribed for both forms of presentation. The “staff costs” / “employee benefits” are dealt with in IAS 19. The regulation is identical to the German version and includes all personnel and ancillary personnel costs, including any remuneration in kind ( deputation wages ). Flat-rate travel, food and accommodation expenses as well as expenses for the supervisory board or advisory board do not represent personnel expenses . These belong to the other operating expenses. Differences to the HGB result from the pension provisions, because the amount of the pension expenses between HGB and IAS do not match in some cases.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Personnel costs  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Lück (Ed.): Lexicon of Business Administration. 1990, p. 78 ff.
  2. Peter Bömelburg, Achim Curd Rägle, Marco Gahm: Expenses for temporary workers in the income statement. ( Memento of the original from April 20, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: The company. April 12, 2013, p. 765 ff. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Heinz Kußmaul: Business administration for entrepreneurs. 2008, p. 142.
  4. ^ Roman Macha: Fundamentals of cost and performance accounting. 2011, p. 54.
  5. ^ Christian Scholz: Personnel Management. 2000, p. 720.
  6. ^ Roman Macha: Fundamentals of cost and performance accounting. 2011, p. 52.
  7. Heinz Kußmaul: Business administration for entrepreneurs. 2008, p. 59.