Top UK bosses earn average worker's yearly salary in just three days

By the time most workers are heading home on Monday, top industry bosses will have made more in three days of January than the average British employee does in the entire year.

The average FTSE 100 chief executive earns £901.30 an hour, compared with the average worker's wage of £14.37 an hour, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and think-tank High Pay Centre.

It found the average yearly salary for the chief executives to be £3.46 million in 2018, while the median annual wage stood at £29,559 in the same year.

The research shows that if industry chiefs started back at work on January 2, they will have passed that average wage landmark by close of business on January 6.

The average chief executive salary was £3.46 million in 2018, compared to the national median of £29,559 Credit: PA/Joe Giddens

Business Secretary Andrea Leadson said the results would be "eye-watering" to many workers in the UK.

"The numbers are better than they were - down a quarter since 2012 and 13% on average since last year - but the situation is still concerning, especially in those cases where executives have been rewarded despite failing their employees and customers," she said.

The FTSE 100 features companies from across many industry sectors, including mining, banking, telecommunications and media.

Andrea Leadsom said the findings were 'eye-watering'. Credit: PA/Daniel Leal-Olivas

The report comes as changes to the Companies Act (2006) come into effect, requiring publicly listed firms to disclose the ratio of pay between CEO and average worker and explain the reasons for the gap.

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, said the CEO pay gap helped make the UK "one of the most unequal countries in Europe."

"New reporting requirements mean that publicly listed firms will have to be more transparent over how and why they reward their CEOs relative to the wider workforce. Hopefully, this will lead to a more sensible balance between those at the top and everyone else," he said.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O'Grady said the changes to the Companies Act don't go far enough.

"Reporting on it is only the start, there should be seats for workers on pay committees and company boards to stop fat cats taking more than their fair share."

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady Credit: PA/Andrew Matthews

The Director-General at the Institute of Economic Affairs Mark Littlewood said comparing CEO salaries to the average worker only served to "stoke public hostility."

"By continuing our obsession with high pay, we dismiss the achievements of successful CEOs which benefit employees and customers alike; and we distract ourselves from tackling the critical issue of low pay and the cost of living crisis," he said.