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Has your boss earned your annual salary already this year?

Written by: Emma Lunn
The average earnings of a CEO of a FTSE 100 company will surpass the median UK worker’s full time annual salary just before 2pm today.

Bosses will have to work about 30 hours to earn the equivalent to the median annual salary for a full-time worker in the UK, with the top earners pocketing more than 100 times the average UK salary.

The typical FTSE 100 CEO pay currently stands at £3.41m, which is 103 times the median full time worker’s pay of £33,000. This represents a 39% increase on median CEO pay levels as of January 2022, while the median worker’s pay has only increased by 6% in the same period. 

According to the High Pay Centre calculations, FTSE 100 bosses will work nine hours fewer this year to overtake the UK median worker than they did in 2022. However, top city lawyers will have to wait until next week to surpass the median worker’s annual pay, while leading bankers will have to wait until 20 January.

The calculations are based on the High Pay Centre’s analysis of the most recent CEO pay disclosures published in companies’ annual reports, combined with government statistics showing pay levels across the UK economy.

The figures highlight how top pay has increased dramatically following the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic, after falling while lockdowns and other economic restrictions were in place. 

Last year, executive pay data suggested that CEOs would have to wait until the fourth working day of 2022 to overtake the median worker’s annual salary, while this year they will accomplish the feat in under three days.

FTSE 350 executives (comprised of FTSE 100 executives other than the CEO, plus CEOs and other executives of FTSE 250 companies) have a median pay of £1.33m. They will need to work until 11 January for their pay to overtake the annual salary of the median UK worker.

Meanwhile, everyone in the top 1% of full time UK earners, making at least £145,000, will have overtaken the annual pay of the median full time worker by 23 March this year.

The High Pay Centre found that a partner at a ‘magic circle’ law firm, with average pay of £1.95m, would need to work until 9 January to earn the typical worker’s wage. A partner at a ‘big four’ accountancy firm, earning an average of £911,000, would need to work until 16 January.

‘Extraordinary amounts of money’

Luke Hildyard, director at the High Pay Centre, said: “In the worst economic circumstances that most people can remember, it is difficult to believe that a handful of top earners are still raking in such extraordinary amounts of money.

“The UK economy really cannot afford for such a big share of the wealth that is created by all workers to be captured by such a tiny number of people at the top. To address declining living standards for the majority, we need measures to balance the distribution of incomes more evenly.”

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