Pay awards have risen slightly in January 2013, compared with the end of 2012, but could simply be due to a "beginning-of-year bounce".
This is according to the latest research from pay analysts XpertHR, which looked at details of pay awards made so far in 2013. It found a median pay award of 2.5%, with half of awards ranging between 1.5% and 2.8%.
Pay awards in the three months to the end of December 2012 were recorded at a median 2%, unchanged on the three months to the end of November.
However, XpertHR pointed out that during 2011 and 2012 pay awards also rose in January before dropping back again, and 2013 may witness a similar pattern.
XpertHR's sample of January pay deals is made up entirely of private-sector pay awards, as no public-sector organisations settle their pay awards at this time of year. In April, when many public-sector pay settlements take effect, XpertHR is predicting that the overall level of pay awards might dip.
Pay rises continue to lie well below the prevailing level of inflation as measured by the retail prices index (RPI). The RPI remains the most commonly used benchmark for pay awards and has consistently out-paced pay awards over the past few years.
XpertHR has predicted that that private-sector pay awards will sit at around 2.5% over 2013, while inflation is expected to average 2.9%, leaving employees out of pocket for at least another year.
XpertHR Pay and Benefits editor Sheila Attwood said: "For the past two years, pay settlements in January have been higher than over the remainder of the year, and it looks like 2013 may follow the same pattern. For employees, however, any higher increases are still likely to fall short of the increase in prices."