Rise in public sector pay freezes

Pay freezes in the public sector have increased despite a decline in the overall number of freezes across all sectors.

The latest research on pay settlements from Income Data Services (IDS) found pay freezes have dropped to the lowest level since January 2009, now accounting for less than a fifth of awards.

However, in the public sector 35% of pay awards with effective dates in April resulted in pay freezes.

The research revealed typical pay awards in the private sector rose significantly to 2% in the three months to the end of April 2010, up from 1.3% in the three months to March.

But pay awards in the public sector were at 1%, half that for the economy as a whole (2%).

Ken Mulkearn, editor of IDS Pay Report, said: “Our latest figures present strong evidence that pay freezes – one of the key features of the recession – are now fading, in the private sector at least, as the economy stabilises.

“Overall, the higher RPI inflation rate of 5.3% is having only a moderate effect, but that effect could strengthen in the second half of 2010, depending on the economic outlook.

“However, the picture in the public sector is very different, with the number of freezes rising. The number of employees affected by freezes is likely to rise as well, since the public sector bargaining groups are relatively large.

“In the private sector last year, the proportion of employees covered by pay freezes was never much more than one-in-ten, since although there was a large number of freezes, most of these were at comparatively small organisations.”

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