Top UK bosses are paid 115 times more than average worker, analysis finds

Bosses of top British companies will have made more money by teatime on Wednesday than the average UK worker will earn in the entire year, according to an independent analysis of the vast gap in pay between chief executives and everyone else.

The chief executives of FTSE 100 companies are paid a median average of £3.6m a year, which works out at 115 times the £31,461 collected by full-time UK workers on average, according to research by the High Pay Centre thinktank.

On an hourly basis the bosses will have earned more by 5.30pm on Wednesday 6 January than the average worker will pick up across the whole of 2021.

Warren Kenny, acting general secretary of the GMB union which represents more than 600,000 workers, said: “These repugnant figures expose the sheer scale of inequality and exploitation in the workplace.

“The workers who have made heroic sacrifices to keep society together during the [coronavirus] outbreak deserve better – it is time for corporate leaders, shareholders and politicians to wake up and take action.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said the fact that bosses had earned so much money already “tells you everything you need to know about how unfair our economy is”.

“Our army of minimum wage workers – carers, shop assistants and delivery drivers – have kept the country going through the pandemic. Not these CEO’s at the top raking in far more than their share,” she said. “ If the government is serious about levelling up Britain, it needs to start by levelling up pay and conditions for those we most rely on, and stop the threat to freeze key workers’ pay.”

Luke Hildyard, the director of the High Pay Centre, which campaigns for executive pay restraint, said: “Pay for top CEOs today is about 120 times that of the typical UK worker. Estimates suggest it was around 50 times at the turn of the millennium or 20 times in the early 1980s.”

The online supermarket Ocado has been singled out as having the biggest pay gap between those at the top and those on the shop floor.

Its chief executive, Tim Steiner, was paid £58.7m in 2019 , which works out at 2,605 times the £22,500 paid to the online grocery delivery company’s staff on average. It means Steiner was paid about 10 times as much as the average Ocado worker’s annual salary for just one day’s work.

The High Pay Centre estimates that chief executive pay levels remained essentially flat in their analysis over the past year, while pay for UK workers had increased slightly. It means that CEOs have to work 34 hours of the year to surpass median earnings, rather than just 33 hours in 2020.

The thinktank’s calculations assume “a highly demanding workload” for CEOs of 320 12-hour days of work a year. This equates to hourly pay of £941 an hour.

It would take a worker on the full minimum wage rate of £8.72 an hour 212 years to earn the same as the average CEO earns in a year.

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