The latest data from XpertHR shows that the median basic pay award between May and July 2021 is worth 2%, unchanged on the figure seen in each of the three previous rolling quarters. However, this is a welcome stabilisation on pay after the median pay award fell to nil in the same period a year ago.


In the 12 months to the end of July 2021, the median pay award in the public sector sits at 2%, with the interquartile range between 1.2% and 3%. Over the same period, pay awards in the private sector are worth 1.5% at the median, with the middle half of awards falling between nil and 2%. The whole economy median over the year to the end of July 2021 is also 1.5%. That said, the value of pay awards in the public sector has fallen to 2% in recent months, having been static at 2.5% for the past couple of years.


Notably, in the services sector – which includes both public and private-sector services – the median in the three months to the end of July 2021 is 2%, with almost two thirds (63%) of pay awards worth this much or more. This is the highest median pay award in the sector recorded by XpertHR since last November, though the sector also saw the only pay freezes recorded in this latest data. The interquartile range extends from 1.5% to 2.7%.


Latest pay award findings:

Based on details of 36 pay settlements effective between 1 May and 31 July 2021, covering more than 687,000 employees, XpertHR found the following:

  • Median pay award remains stable. The median basic pay award in the three months to the end of July 2021 is worth 2%, unchanged from the previous rolling quarter.
  • Half of pay awards are higher. In a matched sample of 28 pay deals (both basic and performance based), 54% are higher than the same employee group received the previous year, while a quarter (25%) are lower. More than one in five (21%) are set at the same value as the previous year. Conversely, in the same period in 2020, more than half (61%) were lower and only around one in six (18%) were higher.
  • Wide interquartile range. The middle half of all pay awards are worth between 1.5% and 2.8%. The lower quartile has risen by 0.5 percentage points on the previous three rolling quarters, while the upper quartile is also up by 0.5 percentage points compared with the previous three-month period.
  • Pay freezes becoming less common. Pay freezes account for a relatively small number of pay deals in our current three-month sample, with just two settlements recorded at nil. In the same period last year, pay freezes accounted for more than half (51%) of the total sample of pay settlements.


Sheila Attwood, XpertHR pay and benefits editor, said:

“2020 marked the worst year for pay awards since 2010, so it is welcoming to have seen pay deals rising and now stabilising. It is likely that awards will remain at this level as employers are still regrouping and looking to strike the balance between recruitment and wider reward package costs.

“Despite movements to end restrictions and a move towards a ‘return to normal’, best reflected in the two percentage points increase in private sector median pay awards over the past year, uncertainty still remains.”