High Pay Centre

High pay: analysis of pay ratios in the UK






November 2019 – February 2021

Grant Awarded



Project summary

Research and related policy work analysing pay gaps between high, low and middle earners at FTSE 350 companies based on pay ratio disclosures.


In 2020 all quoted public companies with more than 250 UK employees will have to provide pay ratio data between their highest earner and pay at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile of their UK workforce. This measure was brought in by the Conservative government with the aim of providing greater transparency on pay.

Once a full data-set of these disclosures is available it could lead to employers becoming more focussed on pay gaps, just as reporting on gender pay has led to some positive changes amongst companies.

Project overview

The research will include an analysis of pay ratios disclosures appearing in annual reports from 2020. This research will yield insights including:

  • Average pay ratios for each sector (based on the official FTSE Industrial Classification Benchmark) – covering the ratio of CEO pay to the 75th, 50th and 25th percentiles, as well as the 75th percentile to the 25th percentile;
  • ‘League tables’ for each sector, examining how companies within similar industries differ in their levels of pay inequality;
  • The relationship between pay ratios and other company characteristics, by comparing the published pay ratios with other publicly available metrics (such as share price changes; profitability, market capitalisation; or the number of employees).
  • The impact of a hypothetical redistribution from the highest-paid quartile of employees to the lowest paid.

The data would be collated on an ongoing basis be used to inform reports, briefings and infographics detailing the data and supplementary analysis. The research will sit alongside a range of engagement and advocacy activity with FTSE 350 companies, asset managers and other shareholders as well as trade unions.