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Top bosses set to surpass annual pay of average worker just five days into 2023

The bosses of the largest companies in the UK will have earned more money in the first five days of 2023 than an average worker in the country does over the entire year, according to a new analysis.

Before 2pm on Thursday afternoon, the CEOs at the UK’s one hundred largest companies – listed on the FTSE 100 – would have banked an average of £33,000 since New Year’s Day, according to calculations from the High Pay Centre, a think tank that campaigns for fairer pay for workers.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics and the financial reports of publicly listed companies, that is the amount an average worker in the UK earned during 2022.

It means the top bosses would have earned more than an average UK worker’s full time annual salary just within five days of 2023 and third day of the markets before the index closes at 4.30pm.

The analysis comes amid rising concerns about the cost of living, and after a pledge by Rishi Sunak to halve inflation.

The research also finds that FTSE 100 bosses will overtake the UK median employee some nine working hours faster than they did in 2022, pointing to a rising pay gap.

The median FTSE 100 CEO pay currently stands at £3.41 million, 103 times the median full time worker’s pay of £33,000, HPC research shows.

And despite the rising cost of living there has been a 39 per cent increase on median CEO pay levels since January 2022, while the median worker’s pay has only increased by 6 per cent over the same period.

“In the worst economic circumstances that most people can remember, it is difficult to believe that a handful of top earners are still raking in such extraordinary amounts of money,” High Pay Centre director Luke Hildyard said.

“The UK economy really cannot afford for such a big share of the wealth that is created by all workers to be captured by such a tiny number of people at the top.”

The stark difference in the income gap is also visible when companies in the FTSE 250 are taken into account.

Top executives in the 350 largest companies, including the hundred largest listed on the FTSE 100 and 250 listed on the FTSE 250, have an average pay of £1.33m and will only need to work till 11 January for their pay to overtake the annual pay of an average UK worker.

While CEOs at big companies will outearn an average UK worker within the first few days of January, the research also shows everyone in the top 1 per cent of full time UK earners, making at least £145k, will have overtaken the annual pay of the median full time worker by 23 March.

Union workers and organisations advocating for fair pay have long demanded salaries for top executives be capped and for the divide between an average worker and top executive to be bridged.