The UK is ranked 14th out of the top 20 European economies when it comes to entry-level pay

Salary for UK professionals entering the workforce remains relatively low compared to other countries in Europe, according to Willis Towers Watson’s latest Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report.

Job seekers can expect an average salary of £26,000 for entry-level positions in the UK, compared to £68,959 in Switzerland and £45,194 in Denmark ranked first and second respectively in the report.

MEDIAN GROSS BASE SALARY (FIGURES IN GBP)
 

Entry Level

rank

Middle Manager

rank

Switzerland

68959

1

125890

1

Denmark

45194

2

85038

3

Norway

42822

3

73044

8

Germany

40650

4

85261

2

Luxembourg

39957

5

82540

4

Belgium

36550

6

74666

7

Austria

35863

7

75696

5

Netherlands

34155

8

74714

6

Sweden

33814

9

63202

12

Finland

33202

10

59904

14

Ireland

30739

11

72580

9

France

30031

12

66140

11

Italy

26459

13

59247

15

United Kingdom

26000

14

69480

10

Spain

23061

15

60198

13

Slovenia

21094

16

55564

17

Greece

18023

17

57386

16

Portugal

16229

18

46192

18

Czech Republic

12981

19

38899

19

Slovakia

12628

20

35239

21

Poland

11628

21

37011

20

Source: Willis Towers Watson Global 50 Report

The report examined the tax burden in each country, as well as the cost of living, to establish how much buying power employees get from their pay, which gave an indication of what an employee’s net income will provide within their country of residence.

When this is taken into account, UK entry-level salaries seem less feeble as lower taxes and cheaper living costs allow workers to make their pay go further. In fact, when the figure is adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) Denmark’s ranking falls below the UK as the wage becomes £29,092 compared to the UK’s £29,739 wage which accounts for taxes and living.

MEDIAN RELATIVE BUYING POWER (FIGURES IN GBP)
 

Entry Level

rank

Middle Manager

rank

Switzerland

47202

1

77963

1

Luxembourg

44011

2

73876

2

Germany

36511

3

66615

3

Ireland

33080

4

57094

5

Belgium

32028

5

49102

10

Austria

31777

6

55961

6

Netherlands

30612

7

51583

9

United Kingdom

29739

8

57129

4

Denmark

29092

9

46157

11

Norway

28062

10

42732

12

France

26960

11

54036

7

Sweden

26881

12

41091

15

Spain

24361

13

53377

8

Finland

24066

14

36850

20

Italy

21529

15

38637

18

Slovenia

20430

16

41622

13

Portugal

17342

17

38784

17

Greece

16282

18

36990

19

Czech Republic

16235

19

41337

14

Poland

14137

20

40801

16

Slovakia

13587

21

33465

21

Source: Willis Towers Watson Global 50 Report

Tom Hellier, UK Practice Lead, Rewards at Willis Towers Watson, said: “Although dependent on prevailing exchange rates, this data shows that from a cost perspective the UK remains relatively attractive for business compared with European peers. However, staying open to talented workers with fast-growing emerging economies will be critical to realising the UK’s long-term growth potential and employers also 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.”

Those in middle management are offered a much better remuneration package, especially after salaries are adjusted for purchasing power. The typical middle manager in the UK earns £69,480 gross a year, placing them in the 10th spot across Europe. The ranking leaps to 4th place as middle managers can expect to have a wage of £57,129 on a PPP measure.

Switzerland remains the most attractive country in Europe even after adjustments for PPP, driven largely by gross pay levels. Employees enjoy a gross base pay around which is substantially more than UK rates, with £68,959 for entry-level and £125,890 for middle management roles. Despite wages being substantially adjusted downward when taxes and the cost-of-living are factored in, Swiss workers still have a higher buying power than all other Europeans, at £47,202 for entry-level staff and £77,963 for middle managers.

“Increasing competition for talent, amplified by medium-term uncertainty from Brexit, highlights the need for organisations to position themselves as an employer of choice and look at the overall perceived value of their offer. Enhancing the non-financial aspects of the deal such as career-advancement opportunities, learning, and development programmes and flexible work arrangements are key to improving retention and ensuring companies remain competitive across the region.” Hellier adds.