HR profession is bastion of age-based pay inequality

Just three days into the era of age discrimination legislation, Personnel Today can reveal that age-based pay inequality is rife across HR.

The latest research from salary survey specialist CELRE shows that HR professionals’ pay is clearly linked to their age.

For example: HR department managers aged 25 to 29 earn on average £52,865 at 30 to 34 they earn £54,015 at 35 to 39 they earn £58,380 at 40 to 44 they earn £58,915 and at 45 to 49 they earn £59,704.

The difference between the salaries of the 25- to 29-year-olds and the 45- to 49-year-olds doing the same job is nearly £7,000 (13%). This figure increases to more than £10,000 (18%) when bonuses are also taken into account.

Factors other than age may come into play in the figures – calculated from thousands of individual salaries within more than 90 organisations – as older managers in the same roles and with the same job titles as younger colleagues may have accumulated more responsibilities. But this apparent age discrimination is not limited to the youngest members of HR staff, as pay begins to decrease for HR professionals aged over 50. For example, HR department man-agers over the age of 50 earn an average of £57,795, which is nearly £2,000 (3%) less than those aged 45 to 49 (when most HR professionals are at the peak of their earnings power).

The research findings will be worrying news for HR – the job function with ultimate responsibility for ensuring organisational compliance with the new age legislation.

By Rob Willock and Georgina Fuller

To take part in the next salary survey of HR/personnel staff e-mail:


“I’ve seen no evidence of age-related pay in the City. Our pay structures are performance- and market-based. We try and reward people for their skills and achievements, irrespective of age.”
Richard Fuller, HR director, Threadneedle Management Services

“The level at which people joined an organisation and whether they were promoted internally or recruited externally is a critical factor. If people join a company as a graduate in their early 20s, they’re unlikely to have a dramatic salary rise in the first few years. But if they were recruited in externally, they’re more likely to be paid a higher salary, irrespective of age.”
John Maxted, MD, Digby Morgan HR Search and Selection

“The findings are worrying for HR. But the public sector is much less likely to discriminate. I’d be very surprised if there were major differences in the public sector as there are clear pay structures in place. Maybe younger individuals are willing to accept less pay for the same role in the private sector.”
Shaun Rafferty, Strategic HR manager, London Borough of Brent Council

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