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Non-union pay expected to rise 3.2 per cent in 2013

Non-union workers across Canada can expect wage increases of 3.2 per cent on average next year, according to an annual survey by Mercer.

The global business consultancy said Monday that the projected wage increases would match actual increases in base pay reported for 2012. They would also be up slightly from the average of 3 per cent in 2011 and 2.9 per cent in 2010.

Mercer's 2012/13 Canada Compensation Planning Survey, conducted annually for more than 20 years, includes responses from more than 750 employers across Canada and reflects pay practices for approximately two million non-union workers.

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The results cover increases in five categories: executive, management and professional (sales and non-sales), as well as workers in the office, clerical and technician classification and those in the trades, production and service sector.

Mercer said the results are indicative of a steadily increasing trend that will also see top-performing employees – some 6 per cent of the work force – enjoy even higher increases as companies strive to retain critical talent.

"Differentiating salary increases based on performance is the norm and remains an effective way for employers to wisely spend their reward dollars on the most impactful employees," said Iain Morris, leader of Mercer's human capital consulting business for Canada.

"Since many companies are still working with limited dollars, taking a holistic approach to total rewards – using internal work force analytics as well as external market data to set appropriate programs for each employee segment – is the smart approach," Mr. Morris said.

Mercer's survey shows that in 2012, the highest-performing employees received average base pay increases of 4.9 per cent compared with 2.9 per cent for average performers, which make up about 60 per cent of the work force.

Regional and industry differences were also a factor, with Western Canada continuing to lead the way with higher increases than the rest of the country.

For example , the Calgary and Alberta markets forecast an average increase of 3.3 per cent for 2013 compared with 2.9 per cent for Montreal and Quebec.

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Oil and gas companies lead the way with a forecast increase of 4.2 per cent for 2013 while high tech/telecommunications and public sector/not-for-profit sectors forecast increases of 2.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively when salary freezes are included, Mercer said.

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