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Average 2018 UK Salary Bonus
Salary Bonuses in 2018 - How Does Your Bonus Stack Up?
In commission based roles like sales or recruitment, bonus pay forms a key part of overall income. However, it’s not just these roles which benefit from incentive pay as the majority of private sector jobs also include some sort of performance-based bonus.
We’ve collated research from a series of datasets from the Office For National Statistics to discover the state of bonus pay in 2018 and how much incentive income the average UK earner could expect to be paid.
So how much does the average UK earner take home each year as incentive pay?
The Average UK Bonus 2018: £2,242
ONS: Earnings and hours worked in the UK: 2018¹
In 2018, the average UK earner, working full time (defined as working more than 30 paid hours per week), received a bonus of just over £2k. This figure includes earners that did not receive a bonus.
To put this into proportion, the average gross income (everything included) of a full-time UK worker in 2018 is £36,611.
What counts as incentive pay?
“Incentive pay is the amount paid to an employee as a result of meeting a performance or productivity objective, including profit sharing, bonus, piecework and commission payments” (Office For National Statistics)
What’s included in the data source?
The data from the ONS uses 1% of earners on PAYE tax taken from HM Revenues and Customs; in absolute terms, this works out as a sample size of around 300,000 UK earners.
Which jobs pay the highest bonuses?
Bonuses can be a controversial topic, particularly in the last 10 years following the banking crisis. Below is a breakdown of the average bonus by occupation:
|Occupation||Average Bonus||Jobs in the UK|
|Corporate managers and directors||£7,878||1,988,000|
|Business, media and public service professionals||£2,271||1,220,000|
|Science, research, engineering and technology professionals||£2,197||1,119,000|
|Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades||£946||861,000|
|Customer service occupations||£866||464,000|
|Skilled construction and building trades||£689||280,000|
|Process, plant and machine operatives||£531||1,356,000|
|Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations||£519||331,000|
|Transport and mobile machine drivers and operatives||£453||704,000|
|Secretarial and related occupations||£415||530,000|
|Elementary trades and related occupations||£368||289,000|
|Elementary administration and service occupations||£232||1,992,000|
|Caring personal service occupations||£37||1,721,000|
ONS: Earnings and hours worked, occupation by two-digit SOC²
Unsurprisingly, and presumably due to dividend payments, corporate managers and directors take home the highest average annual bonus, with just under £8000. After this, professional services under business, media, public service and science tend to do well, averaging just over £2000 a year in incentive pay.
One limitation of the ONS data is that income split by 'occupation' can only be broken down into 2 digit SOC code, rather than more common job title definitions, however it still gives good insight into bonus pay in the UK by job type.
How much incentive pay can you expect for your age?
You would assume that the biggest bonuses would be received by seasoned professionals in the latter stages of their career, however, this isn’t always true; below is a breakdown of the average UK private sector bonus by age group:
|Age Group||Average Bonus||Jobs|
ONS: Earnings and hours worked, age group³
The data suggests that after a decade or so of full-time working that incentive pay really starts to pick-up. This is most likely the point where shares, share options, dividends and long-term incentive plans are likely to ‘kick in’ to supplement income.
Who earns higher bonuses: men or women?
The gender pay gap is a big discussion point in the UK today and it looks to be just as much reflected in bonuses as it does in gross annual incentive income:
Average Male Bonus 2018: £2,613
Average Female Bonus 2018: £1,158
When broken down by both age and gender, the data points to the cause of the disparity; males between 40-59 tend to earn around twice as much incentive pay as females, taking home an average of £3500 per year:
|Age Group||Male Avg. Incentive Pay||Female Avg. Incentive Pay||Male vs Female Variance|
Which UK regions pay the highest bonuses?
Looking at purely private sector incentive pay broken down by region, jobs in London and the South East on average pay significantly higher bonuses than other regions in the UK:
|Yorkshire and The Humber||£1,450||1,802,000|
|North East||Data not available||859,000|
ONS: Earnings and hours worked, public & private sector⁴
The data we’ve collated from the ONS suggests that London is effectively ‘another country’ when it comes to incentive pay in the UK.
With the volume and type of commerce in the capital, it’s easy to see how the average bonus is so much higher than other areas throughout the UK. Financial and property sectors thrive in London; likely accounting for a large amount of the incentive pay which brings the average bonus pay to nearly £7000.
Private sector bonuses over time
Looking at bonuses more generally, it's interesting to see how incentive pay has evolved over the last 15 years. The graph below breaks down the average private sector incentive income by year:
ONS: Earnings and hours worked, public & private sector⁴
Interestingly, bonuses still haven’t recovered from the recession after 2008 where they peaked at £3,038. In 2018 the average private sector bonus was around £600 lower than this - perhaps caused by the negative connotations of ‘banker bonuses’ in the context of the financial crisis, which has likely reduced the massive bonuses at the top end of the scale.
Sales staff bonuses over time
As a specialist sales recruitment agency, we were particularly interested in how sales professional’s incentive pay has evolved over the same time period, which can be seen from the graph below:
ONS: Earnings and hours worked, occupation by two-digit SOC²
Sales bonuses over the last 15 years peaked in 2011 and the reason for this isn’t clear. However, we suggest that sales targets were reduced during the ‘lean times’ of 2009 to 2010 and were still at an artificially lower rate in 2011 despite the UK formally coming out of recession.
This could then be the reason why sales incentive pay slumped another 25% in the next two years down to £507 in 2013, as sales targets were raised to the pre-recession levels. Since 2013 the average incentive pay has steadily risen year-on-year but is yet to meet the heights of 2011.
How do the ONS Group ‘Sales Occupations?
The average bonus pay for an employee in a ‘sales occupation’ appears to be lower than you’d expect for the business professional in a selling role. This is due to the way that the Office For National Statistics defines sales roles to include everything from market and street traders to B2B sales roles resulting in bringing the averages down. Despite this, the trend is still interesting to examine.
The trends in UK bonuses suggest that the highest amount of incentive pay comes from male workers in the capital during the latter stages of their career. The regional difference within the UK for incentive pay is striking where a full-time private sector worker in London receives on average over three times the bonus of all other regions in the UK.
With the gender pay gap currently being a big talking point in the UK, the difference in incentive pay between men and women only adds to this, with the average full-time working male taking home over double the bonus of a female.
The private sector still looks to have not fully recovered from the controversy around bonuses in pre-recession Britain, with the average full-time earner in the private sector still taking home 20% less incentive pay in 2018 when compared to 2008. One limitation of this study is that the highest bonuses will have skewed the data, where a large amount of incentive pay goes to the people at the top end of the scale: The Guardian recently reported that the average FTSE100 UK Chief Executive took home a stunning £3.9m in total income in 2018⁵.
Looking at the sales industry more closely, the recession also affected bonuses, with the average incentive pay falling 28% between 2008 and 2010. Since then sales bonuses have looked more positive with steady year-on-year growth from 2012 to 2018, however, they are yet to meet the levels of 2011.
We welcome use of our data in other studies or articles. Please reference Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment and www.aaronwallis.co.uk as the author of the study.
1) Office For National Statistics: Earnings and hours worked in the UK: 2018
2) Office For National Statistics: Earnings and hours worked, occupation by two-digit SOC
3) Office For National Statistics: Earnings and hours worked, age group
4) Office For National Statistics: Earnings and hours worked, public and private sector
5) The Guardian: Top UK Bosses Average Earnings Hit £3.9m
About The Research
Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment has collated data from the Office For National Statistics, analysing and combining different datasets published between 2004 and 2018. Data has been collected from the ONS's Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), which for 2018 was published on the 25th October.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings provides information about the levels, distribution and make-up of earnings and hours paid for employees within industries, occupations and regions in the UK.
Breakdowns are available by gender, full-time/part-time workers as well as by geographies, industrial classification, occupational classification and age groups. These breakdowns are then available for a variety of variables including gross annual income, gross annual incentive pay as well as different time dimensions from months to hours worked.
With a sample size of 1% of earners on PAYE tax taken from HM Revenues and Customs (in real terms around 300,000 people in the UK), the datasets from the ONS provide a valuable and statistically significant insight into earnings of UK citizens.
Published: 27th December 2018
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