British pay awards still lag inflation, but hold at record 6%: XpertHR

LONDON (Reuters) – Pay settlements by British employers held at 6% in the second quarter, remaining at the highest level in nearly 32 years but still well below the rate of inflation, data from human resources company XpertHR showed on Wednesday.

XpertHR, which has been tracking settlements since 1991, said the median basic pay award in the three months to the end of June remained at 6%, unchanged from the first quarter but in contrast to the past three years when pay settlement levels between the first and second quarters varied.

“This month’s data serves as a stark reminder of how long employees have been struggling with the gulf between pay and the rising cost of living,” Sheila Attwood, senior content manager at XpertHR, said.

Britain’s households have been grappling with the highest rate of consumer price inflation among the major rich economies. The latest inflation data is due to be published later on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters expect annual inflation cooled to 8.2% from 8.7%.

The Bank of England, which is expected to increase interest rates for the 14th meeting in a row in August, is closely monitoring inflationary pressure in the labour market.

Official data, published last week, showed stronger than expected wage growth in the three months to May.

XpertHR said median pay deals for the public sector stood at 4.5% in the year to June.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week offered wage increases of between 5% and 7% to several groups of public sector workers, to help settle months of public sector strikes.

However, the pay rises were below Britain’s inflation rate, and industrial action is still scheduled to take place over the coming weeks, with airport and public transport workers among others planning to walk out.

(Reporting by Suban Abdulla, editing by Andy Bruce)