John Cridland
John Cridland is expected to say that British businesses must also support employees in every part of the country to move up the career ladder

The head of one of the UK's most influential business organisations is calling on employers to boost pay.

John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, is expected to argue in his New Year's speech that British businesses must also support employees in every part of the country to move up the career ladder.

In addition, the Cambridge graduate will call on UK firms to give a "helping hand" to young people coming into the labour market.

"As the financial situation of many firms begins to turn a corner, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze," says Cridland.

He adds: "As the recovery takes hold, we need to make sure that all citizens benefit and that growth is properly balanced across the UK."

Cridland explains that the financial situation of many firms is beginning to turn a corner, but one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to "deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze".

Cridland's comments follow official figures released earlier this month which revealed average weekly earnings excluding bonus payments only rose by 0.8%, comparing August to October 2013 with the same period a year earlier.

This means the annual growth rate of earnings is well behind the current rate of Consumer Price Inflation, which is 2.1%.

Flexibility

Part Time
(Reuters)

However, the Office for National Statistics also disclosed that the country's unemployment rate had dropped to 7.4% - edging toward the 7% "threshold" set by the governor of the Bank of England.

"It's important to remember that our flexible labour market has worked to save jobs and keep our economy going through a long drawn out downturn," says Cridland.

He adds: "Those who propose to damage that flexibility with inappropriate regulation put the very system that has kept unemployment here far lower than elsewhere at risk."

Cridland's remarks regarding the UK's "flexible labour market" come after the furore around so-called zero-hour contracts, which offer flexible labour for employers.