A global pay survey by Mercer reveals that only American HR directors earn more than their UK counterparts when average base salaries are compared.
But when guaranteed cash amounts and short-term incentives are taken into account to provide an annual total cash figure, the pay of HR directors falls to fourth spot, behind the US, Brazil and Germany.
The survey also found that HR directors usually receive lower rewards than their finance and marketing counterparts. The US led the pay pack for all three positions, with the total cash figures standing at £166,111 for finance directors, £139,916 for marketing directors and £127,134 for HR directors.
In the UK, the total cash figures were: £137,367 for finance directors, £122,233 for marketing directors and £110.739 for HR directors.
David Conroy, UK leader of reward at Mercer, said: “We find higher than average salaries for HR directors where their role is more strategic and business focused. Examples are where HR directors are driving through change programmes for their employer and taking a leadership role in merger and acquisition activity.”
Steve Gross, global leader of broad-based rewards at Mercer, added: “Bonuses increase pay significantly for many positions. This is illustrated most dramatically by Brazil, which ranks seventh in HR director base pay and second in terms of total cash compensation.
“This reflects the value placed on HR directors among Brazilian companies, balancing the influence of finance and marketing directors in that total cash compensation is comparable for all of these positions.”
The countries paying least to HR directors were India, where the total cash amount was £30,010, Hungary at £36,290 and China at £43,108.
Mr Gross said: “Compensation has long been driven by such factors as historic pay levels, size of economy and competition for talent. As companies become more globally mobile and can shift some jobs to lower-cost locations, these new considerations will have a big impact on pay levels among countries.”