The pay of the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) chiefs has surged by 39% to a median of £3.4m ($4m) in 2021, according to research by the High Pay Centre and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Median pay for a FTSE 100 chief executive rose from £2.46m in 2020 to £3.41m in 2021. Chief executives’ pay has also surpassed the £3.25m median recorded in 2019.
The figures come days after separate figures showed that, after accounting for inflation, UK workers' average pay fell by 4.1% in the second quarter — the biggest fall in records dating back two decades.
The jump in executive pay means that the average UK CEO now collects 109 times that paid to the average British worker, up from 79 times in 2020.
The highest paid FTSE 100 executive was Sébastien de Montessus, chief executive of the London-listed African gold mining company, Endeavour Mining (EDV.L), who received £16.8m — 539 times as much as a median UK full-time worker.
The second highest paid was Pascal Soriot, head of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (AZN.L), on £13.8m.
Albert Manifold, CEO of construction company CRH (CRH.L), was the third highest paid boss, with overall compensation of £11.7m.
There was only one woman in the 10 highest paid CEOs list — Emma Walmsley, CEO of pharmaceutical company GSK (GSK.L).
Unusually, the highest paid FTSE 250 CEO, Frederic Vecchioli of Safestore (SAFE.L), paid £17.06m, got more than any FTSE 100 chief.
The revival in higher pay packages was spurred by an increase in annual bonuses and stronger incentives for staff.
FTSE 100 CEOs’ annual bonuses jumped to £1.4m compared with £828,000 in 2020. Nine in 10 of the bosses received a bonus.
In total, FTSE 100 companies spent almost three-quarters of a billion on executive pay, awarding £720.21m to 224 executives
Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said the growing disparity between pay at the top and that paid to workers is fuelling the cost of living crisis.
“Workers deserve a fair share of the wealth they create. But right now, CEO pay is soaring while working people experience the biggest real wage falls in 20 years, she said.
“These unbalanced pay policies have seen the gap widen between workers and bosses this year, adding to the cost of living crisis.
Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, said: “Very high executive pay is a big part of the cost of living problem. If large employers are paying millions more to already very wealthy executives, that makes it harder to fund pay increases for low and middle-income workers.”
The TUC and the High Pay Centre are calling for reforms to regulations affecting corporate pay-setting processes, including requirements for companies to include a minimum of two elected workforce representatives on the remuneration committees that set pay.