By Iain Withers
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's biggest domestic bank Lloyds has offered UK staff a minimum 2,000 pounds ($2,242) pay rise, a source with knowledge of the talks told Reuters, as lenders and employees across the sector begin annual pay talks that could see wage bills soar.
Companies across Britain are weighing how much to increase staff pay as the end of the year approaches and at a time when double-digit inflation is crushing the finances of particularly lower paid workers.
Lloyds has offered staff either a 2,000 pound pay rise or a 5% lift in salary - whichever is greater - up to a maximum of 5,000 pounds, according to a notice published by union Unite to its members.
The bank will also introduce a new minimum full-time salary of 21,200 pounds from April 2023, the notice said. A Lloyds spokesperson said the minimum salary would be 22,000 pounds once the bank incorporates a pay allowance for company benefits into base pay from that date.
The spokesperson added that the terms of the pay offer would apply to all Lloyds employees if approved by union members - with a ballot set to take place this month.
The pay offer equates to an increase next year of between 8-13% for 43,000 staff on lower paid grades, Lloyds said, adding it also included consolidating some bonuses into base salaries for some staff.
Nonetheless, the offer falls short of the current rate of inflation running at a 40-year high of 10.1% for many Lloyds employees on higher pay grades.
Union Unite said it recommended members accept the "unprecedented offer", noting it directed higher awards to the lowest paid.
The 2,000 pound uplift represented an average 10% pay rise for staff on lower grades, Unite said, with staff at higher grades getting a 4% increase.
"The pay offer represents a win for the workforce," said Caren Evans, national officer for Unite.
Lloyds was the first major British bank to offer staff an unscheduled pay boost to help them cope with the increased cost of living earlier this year.
Not all organisations have found negotiations with unions as amicable, with union members at Royal Mail for one planning strikes in the coming weeks over pay terms.
($1 = 0.8921 pounds)
(Reporting by Iain Withers, Editing by Sinead Cruise, Kirsten Donovan)