Salary rises diminish across the board and some staff suffer falls as downturn hits contracting sector

Contractors’ salaries have stagnated since last year as firms rein in costs, according to research compiled for Building by Hays.

The annual salary guide, published this week, reveals that contractors are paying staff only 2.1% more this year than last year. This compares with an average rise of 7.7%, between 2006 and 2007.

Salaries for some occupations have gone down this year. These include buyers, health and safety staff with five to 10 years’ experience, contract QSs with two to seven years’ experience, assistant planners and senior engineers. Buyers were paid 0.4% less this year than last year, compared with a 9.9% rise in 2007.

Other roles suffered a reduction in salary growth. QSs’ salaries rose 0.8%, compared with 7.9% last year; planners were paid 1.6% more, compared with 7.7% last year; and health and safety professionals’ pay went up by 0.5%, compared with an 8.5% rise in 2007.

The figures were based on the rates paid to new recruits.

Greg Lettington, a director of Hays, said contractors were hiring fewer new people. “Companies are being more cautious about recruitment in the current economic climate, as they have had a fall in work flow,” he said.

Employees’ reluctance to leave their jobs is also preventing vacancies emerging. Lettington added: “As candidates are wary about moving jobs, employers know they can pay at a lower level without losing people.”

Simultaneously, the pool of people looking for jobs is growing, because of redundancies made by housebuilders.

Lettington said: “Many people who lost their jobs in the housing sector are now looking for jobs with contractors, which is also deflating salaries.”