Almost two out of five leading companies have cut executive pay to reduce costs during the current shutdown but only around one in seven have slashed bonuses and long-term incentive payments, a new study suggests.
The High Pay Centre said at least 18% of FTSE 100 companies and 23% of FTSE 250 companies are intending to take advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, so their staff will be placed on furlough with 80% of the wage costs covered by the Government.
Some of these companies have made clear that they will top up wages to their full value, said the think tank.
Its report said that in the past five years these companies have spent a combined total of £321 million on chief executive pay, paid out £26 billion in dividends and £42 billion in profits.
Around 37% of FTSE 100 companies have cut executive pay during the crisis but only 13% have cut the bonuses and long-term incentive payments that comprise the biggest component of executive pay awards, said the High Pay Centre.
Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a vital progressive measure to protect people’s jobs and incomes at this critical time, but it’s important to understand that it is a subsidy for businesses, as well as for workers.
“The companies that are effectively taking public money to sustain themselves through the shutdown will be under particular pressure to achieve a fairer balance between rewards for executives, investors and their wider workforce in future.
“Hopefully the sense of solidarity forged in the crisis will raise ambitions for the social and environmental contribution of all businesses.”