04/01/2017 09:33 GMT | Updated 04/01/2017 11:53 GMT

Fat Cat Wednesday Marks The Moment Executive Pay Surpasses Average Wage

'..before Christmas trees have even been taken down'

Top bosses have already made more money than the typical worker will earn all year - and it will take them just two weeks to surpass the salary of the Prime Minister.

Executives passed the average salary of £28,200 on a day dubbed ‘Fat Cat Wednesday’, the High Pay Centre revealed. The think tank said the figures confirm how pay differs “dramatically” for senior bosses compared with everyone else.

FTSE chiefs’ pay surpassed that for nurses at around 10am on Wednesday and passed the national average two hours later.

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Mike Ashley, chief executive of former FTSE 100 firm Sports Direct, promised action on staff low pay last year

The median pay for a chief executive in a FTSE 100 company was almost £4 million in 2015, or £1,000 an hour, compared to the national living wage of £7.20, said the report.

The High Pay Centre estimated it would take around 28 hours work to pass the UK average wage, the Press Association reported. The figure makes the “generous assumption” that top bosses work 12 hours a day, most weekends and take fewer than 10 days holiday a year.

Using the think tank’s working, analysis suggests that by just next week, chief execs will have been paid more than the full-year average salaries of barristers, judges, airline pilots and even the Prime Minister.

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By Friday 13th January, executive pay will have surpassed the Prime Minister's annual salary of £144,900

By 2pm on Wednesday, executive pay will surpass the yearly average for ordinary firefighters, and by four o’clock that for care home managers.

On Thursday morning, chief executive pay will have passed the full-year average salaries of railway workers, vets, paramedics, barristers and even judges.

Average UK salaries

  • Nurses: £26,249
  • Firefighters: £30,608
  • Care home managers: £32,420
  • Rail construction operatives: £33,930
  • Vets: £34,502
  • Paramedics: £36,197
  • Barristers and judges: £36,916
  • Police officers below sergeant: £39,703
  • Dentists: £44,979
  • Train drivers: £48,908
  • Doctors: £72,315
  • Air Traffic Controllers: £75,060
  • Aircraft pilots: £86,342
  • Prime Minister: £149,440

Source: ONS, This Is Money, House of Commons Library

By mid-morning on Thursday, CEOs will have been paid more than police officers will receive for the whole of 2017.

On Friday, FTSE bosses’ pay packets will have topped the annual salaries for most dentists and train drivers.

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Top exec pay surpassed the average nurses' salaries for the entire year

By Monday, the ninth day of January, executive pay will likely surpass the average annual wage for doctors, air traffic controllers and airline pilots.

It will take top chief executives just over 149 working hours to surpass the salary of Prime Minister Theresa May, which assuming they work at weekends, will happen by Friday 13th January.

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In just 9 days, top chief executives will have earned more than most doctors in 2017

Excessive pay in private firms is now setting a bad example in the public and not-for-profit sectors, with controversy over packages for some university vice chancellors, NHS Trust chief executives, council leaders and charity bosses, it warned.

High Pay Centre director Stefan Stern said: “Our new year calculation is not designed to make the return to work harder than it already is. But Fat Cat Wednesday is an important reminder of the continuing problem of the unfair pay gap in the UK.

“We hope the Government will recognise that further reform to pay practices are needed if this gap is to be closed.”

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By Thursday morning, chief executive pay will have risen above the full-year average salaries of barristers and judges

Stern added: “That will be the main point in our submission to the business department in its current consultation over corporate governance reform.

“Effective representation for ordinary workers on the company remuneration committees that set executive pay, and publication of the pay ratio between the highest and average earner within a company, would bring a greater sense of proportion to the setting of top pay.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working people deserve a fair share of the wealth they help create. But while the pay of top executives has been rocketing up, the average weekly wage is still worth less than it was nine years ago.

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By mid-morning on Thursday, CEOs will have been paid more than the ordinary police officer's average salary

She added: “The Prime Minister must stick to her promise to tackle excessive pay at the top. And she should keep her commitment to put workers on company boards. This would help keep executive salary decisions grounded in common sense and fairness.”

Clive Lewis, shadow business secretary, said: “It is an outrage that, before Christmas trees have even been taken down, chief executives have already earned more in 2017 than most people will earn all year.

“But despite promising action, the Tories have watered down their promise to give shareholders binding votes on executive pay. Under this Government, these grossly unfair pay patterns look set to continue.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The Government is committed to creating an economy that works for everyone.

“That’s why we’re actively consulting on a range of options to address concerns around excessive levels of executive pay, as part of our reforms to strengthen the UK’s corporate governance framework.”