Each september since 1998, PAYEpeople (part of the EKW Group) have undertaken a major exercise to monitor and report the real level of wages paid on petrol retail sites across the UK. In a particular week of September we examined every hourly wage transaction that was processed from petrol retail operators using the PAYEpeople service. This year that meant looking at 6,961 hourly-paid employees at 857 retail sites from one end of the country to the other.


As in previous years, we’re not attempting to analyse ‘average pay’ into different shifts, so for example night shift pay rates from 24-hour sites will simply be contained within the ‘average’. Nor are we attempting to analyse pay against different job descriptions; we’re looking at all hourly-paid employees, whether they’re paid as cashiers, bookkeepers or assistant managers.


• National average pay increased by 5.4% in the 12 months between September 2003 and September 2004.

• The current national average rate is £4.95 per hour (£4.70 in September 2003).

• The highest paying region is the south east of England (excluding Greater London) at £5.22 per hour; the south west is next highest at £5.11.

• The Greater London region itself has slipped down to third place at £5.09 per hour.

• The lowest-paying region remains the north east of England at £4.69 per hour – despite the second-highest increase (7.5%) on last year.

• Largest increase on last year was in Northern Ireland

(up 11%).

• Smallest increase on last year was in Wales, at 3.9%.

• Greatest range of hourly pay is in south east England, between £4.27 and £6.95 per hour.

• The tightest range of rates was recorded in the north east, where all sites fell into a band between £4.50 and £5.03 per hour.

• Other ‘peak’ site-average rates of £6.50 per hour were recorded in Scotland and Greater London.

• Lowest-paying individual site-averages were in the north west (£4.09) and south west (£4.1).

• Average numbers of hourly-paid staff fell slightly to 8.1 (from 8.7) people per site.


An overall national increase of 25 pence an hour may not sound very dramatic,but look at a very simplistic ‘model’ of a site with two staff ‘working’ at any one time on a 16-hour site. Each pair works an 8-hour shift, but there’s naturally an overlap at shift changes of an hour, where you have four people on site. Assuming the site opens 362 days a year, at the old rate of pay of £4.70 you’d be paying them £61,250 over a year, while at the current rate of £4.95 that becomes £64,508. There’s an increase of £3,258 straight away – and those figures ignore employers’ National Insurance and other real-life factors such as holiday pay/SSP/SMP/overtime/etc.


From October 1, 2004 the ‘adult’ national Minimum Wage rate will be £4.85 per hour, with a ‘development rate’ (for 18-21 year olds) of £4.10 per hour. From the average wage rates we’ve produced in this report there were some people out there paying less than the previous NMW rate of £4.50. Presumably they employed a lot of students. Employers may hate it, but the Inland Revenue have a National Minimum Wage Compliance Unit operating. Employers found to be underpaying staff are forced to make up the arrears at short notice, failure to do so incurs further penalties for each day that the arrears remain outstanding. The Revenue states that it is a criminal offence to:

• Refuse or wilfully neglect to pay the NMW

• Fail to keep NMW records

• Keep false records

• Produce false records or information

• Intentionally obstruct an enforcement officer, and

• Refuse or neglect to give information to an

enforcement officer”

If you’d like help/advice managing your payroll, please contact Andy McNicholas at EKW PAYEpeople.

All data supplied by EKW Ltd