By Daniel Hunter

Pay awards concluded in April 2013 are lower than those in the first three months of the year, according to the latest provisional data from pay specialists XpertHR.

In the three months to the end of April 2013, the median (mid-point in the range) basic pay award was worth 2%, half a percentage point below the 2.5% median recorded in the first three months of the year.

The sample of 131 basic pay awards includes the first of this year's deals from within the public sector - where pay awards are subject to the Government's policy of restricting increases to an average of 1%.

However, this is only part of the picture, with the median pay award in the private sector also falling to 2%, from 2.5% in the previous three-month period. Pay awards in manufacturing companies (at a median 2.1%) remain slightly above those in the service sector (at 1.9%).

Within the private sector there are clear winners and losers in the pay stakes. Overall, approximately one pay award in 10 has resulted in a pay freeze, but more than half of these have been recorded in organisations in the not-for-profit sector. In contrast, the pay awards worth 3% or more are concentrated in the electricity, gas and water, and engineering and metals sectors.

A full analysis of pay settlements in the three months to the end of April 2013 reveals the following:

- The median across-the-board pay increase was 2%.
- One-third (35.1%) of pay awards were higher than the previous pay award for the same employee group.
- The most common pay increase was 2%. Just over one pay award in 10 (10.6%) resulted in a pay freeze.

"2013 is shaping up to be another year of only modest pay awards, with employees in the public and not-for-profit sectors most likely to receive low, or no, pay awards," XpertHR Pay and Benefits editor Sheila Attwood said.

"Employers have told us that their "ability to pay" is the primary deciding factor when setting the level of pay increase, and with many still struggling with the prevailing economic climate pay awards are subdued as a result."

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