The long period of UK pay stability has ended, according to the monthly analysis from pay analyst IRS.
The level of pay settlements has risen in the first round-up which includes pay deals effective in 2005.
IRS' provisional analysis of pay settlements between November 2004 and January 2005 reveals that the median basic pay award has jumped to 3.3%.
On the back of rising inflation in the last few months of 2004, the IRS whole-economy measure of pay awards is 0.3 percentage points higher than the 3% figure recorded for the previous rolling quarter to December 2004, and every previous rolling quarter back to April 2003.
This latest finding means that the IRS headline measure of pay awards has reached its highest level for more than six years, having last stood at 3.3% in December 1998. It is also the first time in 22 months that IRS' measure of pay settlements has moved from its 3% stronghold.
IRS Pay and Benefits editor, Sheila Attwood, said: "Although our settlement measure has risen to a six-year high, there seems little prospect of a sustained and decisive take-off in wage deals in the year ahead.
"The key, of course, is headline inflation - the main benchmark in the pay-setting process - that fell in the past month. With the retail prices index forecast to drop further over the course of this year it seems most unlikely that the recent upturn in settlements will be sustained in the longer term."