The median basic pay award has fallen to only one per cent from November to January 2021. 

Research from XpertHR, pay analysts, reveals that pay rises have fallen to their lowest levels since June-August 2020. During this time, the median pay award was a pay freeze.

Compared to figures from the rolling quarter which ended in December 2020, the median basic pay award has since dropped from 2 per cent to 1 per cent currently.

Employees were most likely to receive a payrise worth 1 per cent, followed in second place by pay rises worth 2 per cent.

In addition to this, data also shows that a significant amount of companies – around a third (33.6 per cent) – have frozen pay.

When comparing statistics from last year, research showed that four in five pay awards (79.5 per cent) made are lower than the same employee group received in the previous year. Almost a fifth (18.1 per cent) are at the same level. Only 2.4 per cent were higher than the previous year, illustrating the impact of COVID-19 on reward.

It was acknowledged, however, that organisations are still grappling with the impacts of COVID-19 and concerns linked to the pandemic, the vaccination roll-out and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit which could see a shift in reward as the year progresses.

 Sheila Attwood, XpertHR pay and benefits editor, said:

The fall in the headline rate of pay awards at the beginning of 2021 reflects the continuing uncertainty in which businesses are operating.

The number of organisations choosing to freeze pay rather than make any increase is discouraging, but for many this decision would not have been taken lightly on the back of the effort many employees have put in over the past year.


XpertHR collected this data based on a sample of 100 pay awards for the three months to the end of January 2021. All of the pay awards recorded by XpertHR in the three months to the end of January 2021 are in the private sector.