Belfast Telegraph

Private sector salary freeze 'eased by benefits packages'

By Clare Weir

Salaries in many private sector jobs in Northern Ireland remain frozen, according to a new recruitment survey.

But the annual survey from Brightwater Recruitment Specialist shows that remuneration packages “as a whole” are improving with an emphasis on lifestyle benefits rather than salaries alone.

‘Lifestyle benefits’ refers to perks and greater flexibility from employers and can include generous time off in lieu and extra time off for events like house moves.

Meanwhile, jobs in IT along with accountancy, legal and HR posts ranked as the best-performing sectors in terms of pay increases and benefits.

Top earnings include a maximum of £120,000 per annum for an in-house head of legal services and £110,000 for a sales director in ICT.

A permanent IT chief technical officer can expect to command between £75,000-£100,000.

A managing director in production and manufacturing can expect between £80,000 and £100,000.

The report says that in order to retain key staff, many companies are offering more attractive benefits packages rather than relying completely on base salaries.

The news came days after an Ulster Bank report which showed

that Northern Ireland's private sector has failed to grow for four years.

And last month it was revealed that public sector wages were 41.5% higher than private sector wages in Northern Ireland.

Women working in the public sector are being paid 65% more than those in the private sector according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

However, Northern Ireland full-time private sector earnings increased by 3.5% over the year compared to 0.8% in the UK.

The Brightwater survey said that the banking market, while still under pressure, has seen a surge in corporate banking contract roles.

The report shows that the financial services market in Northern Ireland has remained “quite static” throughout 2011.

Michelle Kearns, commercial manager of Brightwater’s Belfast division, said that the biggest problem for employers here is a limited number of candidates with specific skills. “Companies planning on hiring in 2012 are placing greater emphasis on finding individuals that are the best possible fit to their unique needs, have commercial focus and can add real value.” she said.

David Bloch, managing director of Brightwater Group said new employers like Allen & Overy show that Northern Ireland remains an attractive place to do business.


  • ICT sales director £90,000-£110,000
  • IT chief technical officer £75,000-£100,000
  • In-house head of legal team £48,000-£120,000
  • Managing director £80,000-£100,000
  • Switchboard operator £11,000-£14,000
  • Sales administrator £12,000-£16,000
  • PR executive £14,000-£21,000
  • Accounting technician £13,000 - £20,000

Belfast Telegraph