Chief executive officers of the biggest U.K. companies will have made more in compensation by the end of the workday Wednesday than the median worker will earn for all of 2021, a study found.
By the time they complete their first 34 hours of paid work, the median FTSE 100 CEO’s compensation will exceed the median annual wage for full-time U.K. workers, according to the High Pay Centre, a London-based think tank.
“Pay for top CEOs today is about 120 times that of the typical U.K. worker,” Luke Hildyard, the organization’s director said. “Estimates suggest it was around 50 times at the turn of the millennium or 20 times in the early 1980s.”
Median CEO pay in the U.K. was 3.6 million pounds ($4.9 million) in 2019, while the highest paid — Ocado Group Plc’s Tim Steiner — received 58.7 million pounds in total compensation. That’s 2,605 times more than the median employee, according to the company’s 2019 annual report. Median pay for all full-time workers in the U.K. is 31,461 pounds, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics.
An Ocado spokesperson said Steiner’s pay included a one-time award that vested in 2019 and “recognizes the extraordinary performance of Ocado during this period.”
The findings underscore the disparate effect the Coronavirus pandemic has had on high and low-paid workers, given the tens of thousands of job cuts announced by FTSE 100 companies in 2020. Hospitality firm Whitbread Plc, which reported a 2019 CEO-to-median-employee pay ratio of 143, trimmed 1,500 jobs in 2020, while British Airways owner IAG SA, which reported a 2019 pay ratio of 72, announced 10,000 cuts.
IAG said in a e-mailed statement that the firm “monitors its employees’ overall remuneration package to ensure it reflects their contribution to the group’s success.”
In response to a renewed focus on executive pay during the pandemic, at least 36 FTSE 100 firms announced CEO pay cuts in the first half of 2020, with the most common being a 20% reduction in basic salary, according to the High Pay Centre. CEOs whose annual bonuses are tied to share price performance may end up forfeiting them.
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