Entry-level salaries in the UK amongst the lowest in Western Europe

Towers Watson's picture
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version

Pay for British workers lags behind Europe for most job levels

LONDON, 11 December 2013 – UK employees sit towards the bottom of the European pay league across most job levels, according to the latest study by Towers Watson’s Data Services practice. Base salaries for entry-level professionals and experienced administration staff are particularly low in the UK, ranking 15th out of the top 16 European economies, and nearly three times lower than equivalent salaries in Switzerland.

Further up the career ladder, UK wages for experienced professionals and middle managers are slightly more competitive, placed 13th and 10th respectively out of 16 European countries. For all three levels, UK pay still lags significantly behind countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland according to Towers Watson’s Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report.

Darryl Davis, senior consultant in Towers Watson’s Data Services team, said: “The results of our Global 50 report suggest that Continental European wages have been less severely suppressed over the past few years than in the UK. This may be due to stronger unionisation for employees in many European countries.”

The report also analyses the tax burden in each country, as well as the cost of living, in order to establish how much ‘buying power’ employees enjoy from their pay. This measure gives an indication of what an employee’s net income will provide within their country of residence. When these measures are taken into account, the salaries for UK employees look more competitive. Due to lower taxes and cheaper living costs than in many other European countries, entry-level professionals in the UK move up to 6th and middle managers climb to 4th place for purchasing power, above France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy in both cases.

Elsewhere in Europe, Swiss employees top the pay tables consistently across all job levels with salaries between 25% and 40% higher than even the second-placed countries. As a result, even when taxes and cost of living are taken into account, Swiss workers are still better off than any other Europeans. At the other end of the scale, Portuguese employees are consistently found to be amongst the lowest paid workers with some of the lowest levels of buying power as well.

Chris Charman, director of Towers Watson’s Rewards practice, said: “Although dependent on prevailing exchange rates, these data show that from a cost perspective the UK is relatively attractive for business compared to European peers. Moreover, despite a common labour market in the EU, it is striking to see how divergent base pay levels remain across the Continent.  But employers need to be mindful of the total package; for example in some countries such as the UK, annual bonuses play a more prominent role in addition to base pay.”

Notes to Editors

The Towers Watson Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report contains the latest pay and benefits information for 50 positions across 57 countries worldwide and is a planning tool that enables cross-country pay comparisons.

Global 50: Median Gross Base Salary Comparison by Region and Country

Key: Global Grade (GG)

  • GG 8 = Entry level professional / experience administrator
  • GG 11 = Experienced professional
  • GG 14 = Middle Manager
Rank Country GG8 salary (£) Rank Country GG11 salary (£) Rank Country GG14 salary (£)
1 Switzerland 63,245 1 Switzerland 78,193 1 Switzerland 110,416
2 Denmark 45,464 2 Netherlands 59,843 2 Luxembourg 88,576
3 Norway 44,772 3 Denmark 58,248 3 Germany 80,484
4 Luxembourg 43,009 4 Norway 56,390 4 Norway 77,001
5 Germany 41,302 5 Luxembourg 56,025 5 Denmark 75,934
6 Belgium 37,355 6 Germany 54,906 6 Belgium 73,937
7 Austria 35,432 7 Belgium 47,690 7 Netherlands 69,186
8 Sweden 34,082 8 Austria 46,170 8 Austria 68,388
9 Netherlands 33,064 9 Sweden 44,903 9 Ireland 66,713
10 Finland 32,355 10 France 42,434 10 United Kingdom 64,832
11 Ireland 30,552 11 Ireland 41,074 11 France 64,202
12 France 29,877 12 Finland 39,738 12 Sweden 64,184
13 Spain 25,573 13 United Kingdom 39,464 13 Italy 63,948
14 Italy 24,886 14 Italy 35,182 14 Finland 57,822
15 United Kingdom 24,184 15 Spain 34,947 15 Spain 56,273
16 Portugal 22,440 16 Portugal 30,468 16 Portugal 47,924

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.

News Source : Entry-level salaries in the UK amongst the lowest in Western Europe

Copy this html code to your website/blog to embed this press release.