The UK’s top bosses will have made more money in the first three days of 2018 than the typical worker can expect to earn over the entire year.
Dubbed Fat Cat Thursday, 4 January marks the day when the average pay of top executives has passed the median annual salary of £28,758.
This is despite executive pay falling last year from and average of £5.4m to £4.5m – or from 122 times the average worker’s salary to 120 times.
Stefan Stern, director of the High Pay Centre, said: “While it was encouraging to see a tiny amount of restraint on pay at the top of some FTSE 100 companies last year, there are still grossly excessive and unjustifiable gaps between the top and the rest of the workforce.”
All listed companies will have to publish the pay ratio between bosses and workers from this year, a reform that Mr Stern said would “acknowledge these gaps”.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “The drop in pay in the last year is welcome but will have largely been driven by the Prime Minister’s proposed crackdown on boardroom excess.
“It’s crucial that the Government keeps high pay and corporate governance reform high on its agenda, but we also need business, shareholders and remuneration committees to do their part and challenge excessive pay.
“We need a radical rethink on how and why we reward chief executives, taking into account a much more balanced scorecard of success beyond financial outcomes and looking more broadly at areas like people management.”
The highest paid boss was Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP, although his pay fell from £70.4m to £48.1m.
He was followed by Arnold Donald of cruise company Carnival (£22m) and Rakesh Kapoor of consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser, who saw his pay fall from £23.1m to £14.6m.
Next on the list were Pascal Soriot of pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (£13.3m) and Erik Engstrom of information firm Relx (£10.5m).
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Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow business secretary, said the figures were a “shocking sign of just how out of control inequality has grown”.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workers should be given seats on pay committees to bring some common sense and fairness to boardroom pay and the minimum wage should be put up to £10 an hour as quickly as possible.”