By 6pm on Tuesday, Britain’s top bosses will have earned more than the average UK worker gets in an entire year, new calculations from the High Pay Centre think-tank suggest.
The findings draw attention to the vast and growing gulf between the privileged top one per cent of earners and the rest of us.
FTSE 100 bosses received average total remuneration, including share options, of £4.96m in 2014, according to estimates from the proxy shareholder voting agency Manifest. This equates to a rate of around £1,200 an hour.
The median average salary of a full-time UK worker is £27,645 a year. That means it would take just 22 hours of work in the New Year for these chief executives to take home more than the average British worker. Assuming they started work with most of the rest of the workforce on Monday, it will take them until Tuesday afternoon to reach the target.
“Fat Cat Tuesday highlights the continuing problem of the unfair pay gap in the UK,” said Stefan Stern, director of the High Pay Centre.
“Over-payment at the top is fuelling distrust of business, at a time when business needs to demonstrate that it is part of the solution to harsh times.”
To help tackle the pay gap the High Pay Centre is calling for ordinary workers to be represented on the company remuneration committees that set executive pay. It also wants firms to be compelled to publish the gap between the highest and the median earner within a company.
Official statistical surveys suggest that the income gap between the top 10 per cent of earners and those in the middle of the income distribution has been relatively stable for the past 25 years. But the share of the top one per cent, which includes company bosses and bankers, has been rising strongly over most of that period as pay and bonuses have ballooned. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last month showed that the share of wealth of the top one per cent was around 12.6 per cent – equal to the combined wealth of the poorest 57 per cent of the population. Wages grew at 2.4 per cent in the most recent ONS labour market statistics.