Changes to pay in 2010

22nd March 2011


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Results from the 2011 IEMA pay and benefits survey revealing the changes in environment professionals' pay during 2010

The economic recession of the past two years has been described by expert bodies, including the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, as the worst since the depression of the 1930s.

However, unemployment levels have so far not reached the levels witnessed in the previous two major downturns. Unemployment was above 10% at this stage of the downturns in both the 1980s and 1990s, whereas unemployment is currently at 7.9% of the working population.

One explanation economists have offered for the containment of unemployment is increased flexibility among the working population in adjusting wage expectations to allow employers to weather the storm without making as many redundancies. Pay freezes and even cuts have been widely reported in 2009 and 2010. Our survey reflects this fact; well over one-third of respondents (37.2%) said that their salaries had not increased between 2009 and 2010. Another 7.1% said that they had suffered a salary cut.

Nevertheless, more than half (53.3%) said that they had received a pay increase during the year. This suggests environmental practitioners have fared marginally better than some others.

A recent survey of UK health and safety practitioners by Health and Safety at Work magazine found that only 42% of the 831 respondents had received any salary increase in 2010.

Figure 7 provides the detail of environmental practitioners’ salary increases and decreases, showing the percentage of cuts and rises by membership level.

Figure 7: Percentage change in salaries in 2010 by membership

The most common percentage increases among those who enjoyed any rise were 2% and 3% – reported by more than one-fifth of respondents. There was also a small, but significant, number of those polled who bucked the recessionary trend and received increases of 10% or more. This may partly be due to members starting new jobs or being promoted.

Where a decrease of more than 10% occurred, this may be due to reductions in workload or hours of work. Where individuals’ salaries have remained the same, or even if they have increased by 1% to 2% as is commonly the case, this reflects an overall decrease in relative income compared with annual inflation of 3.7% in December 2010.


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