UK Worker Entry Level Salaries Are Worst in Western Europe

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By Ian Silvera | December 11, 2013 9:59 PM EST

Towers Watson said the UK lingers near the bottom of the European pay league (Reuters)

British workers' entry level salaries are the worst in Western Europe as pay, overall, lags behind the rest of the bloc.

According to the Towers Watson Global 50 Report, which contains the latest pay and benefits information for 50 positions across 57 countries, revealed base salaries for entry-level professionals and experienced administration staff are particularly low in Britain.

Employees in these positions see their average pay of £24,184 ($39,736, €28,875) ranked 15th out of the top 16 European economies, and nearly three times lower than equivalent salaries (£63,245) in Switzerland.

In contrast, Towers Watson said UK wages for experienced professionals and middle managers are slightly more competitive (£39,464 and £64,832) - placed 13th and 10th respectively out of 16 European countries.

"The results of our report suggest that Continental European wages have been less severely suppressed over the past few years than in the UK," said Darryl Davis, senior consultant in Towers Watson's Data Services team.

He explained: "This may be due to stronger unionisation for employees in many European countries."

Swiss employees top the pay tables consistently across all job levels with salaries between 25% and 40% higher than even the second-placed countries, according to Towers Watson.

In addition, the report also analysed the tax burden in each country, as well as the cost of living, in order to establish how much "buying power" employees enjoy from their pay.

This measure gives an indication of what an employee's net income will provide within their country of residence.

The study found when these measures are taken into account, the salaries for UK employees look more competitive.

Due to lower taxes and cheaper living costs than in many other European countries, for instance, entry-level professionals in the UK move up to 6th and middle managers climb to 4th place for purchasing power, above France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy in both cases.

"Although dependent on prevailing exchange rates, these data show that from a cost perspective the UK is relatively attractive for business compared to European peers," said Chris Charman, director of Towers Watson's rewards practice.

He added: "Despite a common labour market in the EU, it is striking to see how divergent base pay levels remain across the Continent. But employers need to be mindful of the total package; for example in some countries such as the UK, annual bonuses play a more prominent role in addition to base pay."

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