Bosses pocket higher pay amid cost-of-living headaches

Executives at some of Australia's largest companies have received double-digit pay rises as workers face rising cost-of-living pressures.

A report on board and executive pay among ASX-listed companies, released on Tuesday by the Governance Institute of Australia, found the salaries of chief executives rose by 14 per cent in the past financial year while managing directors received an 11 per cent pay rise.

The survey of 1089 companies found the average fixed remuneration of a chief executive of an ASX 200 listed company was $1.37 million in 2023/24, up from $1.14 million in 2022/23.

The average for managing directors of prominent companies increased to $1.88 million, from $1.58 million, during the same period, while the salaries of general staff at the same companies rose by about five per cent.

The Governance Institute of Australia reviewed board and executive pay among ASX-listed companies.

Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto said the report showed a widening disparity between executives and other staff.

"Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis and with so many doing it tough, it might be hard for many to stomach these figures on an individual basis," she said.

"It will be up to those investors and shareholders to make their voices heard if they feel there are reputational risks in not meeting community expectations."

The report found about half of the managing directors and chief executives were eligible for performance bonuses.

The average maximum bonus was 89 per cent for managing directors and 93 per cent for chief executives.

The findings come after the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage by 3.75 per cent, with the lowest-paid employees to receive $24.10 per hour from July.

Ms Motto said the large rises in executive salaries came after the Australian stock market recently reached all-time highs.

"Executives are clearly being compensated for delivering profits and returns for shareholders and are making the most of a competitive market for top talent," she said.

"But we have also seen increased shareholder and investor scrutiny of executive pay in the past 12 months which is likely to continue if companies aren't able to justify such substantial remuneration increases."

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