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Staff pay at Laing O’Rourke grows by over 8 pc

Average salaries at the country’s biggest private contractor topped the £40,000 mark last year with those in business development and managing sites picking up the most.

Laing O’Rourke revealed that the average worker at the firm received an inflation busting 8.6 per cent increase in salary last year in its annual Human Capital review, published last week.

The figures are for the firm’s UK staff, which make up the bulk of the 5,102 employed at its European hub.

The report states: “The Laing O’Rourke policy is to position base pay at the market upper quartile. Those who deliver consistently high levels of performance and make the greatest contribution to the group will rise to the top of their pay ranges faster and will be paid the most.”

The report also showed that the firm had slashed its global accident rate, almost halving it in the last four years.

In 2004 the business had an accident frequency rate of 0.40 but by 2008 this figure had fallen to just 0.21.

In the European hub, the rate figure was down to 0.34 from 0.39, although the business unit still has significant progress to make if it is going to hit a target to get this down to 0.10 by March 2012.

All accident frequency, which includes minor first-aid accidents, was down to 5.19 from 6.27 per 100,000 man hours worked.

For the third year in a row, the firm also revealed the results of drug and alcohol screening that it carried out on its staff.

A total of 119 of the 1,098 tested positive for drug use, up slightly from 114 failures in the previous 12 months.

Cannabis was the most commonly abused drug, with use up 14 per cent, the same figure as for the rise in the use of cocaine.

In all cases those caught out were removed from site and disciplined, leading to dismissal.

Analysis: Openness, pay and drugs policy set contractor apart

By David Rogers

Laing O’Rourke attracts praise and criticism in equal measure.

A company that has grown from a £200 million turnover firm seven years ago to the giant it is now - only Balfour Beatty could claim to turn over a similar amount from contracting - is bound to ruffle a few feathers along the way.

The critics would point to the amount of money it makes on that huge £4.2 billion turnover - £81 million last time; up three-quarters from the previous year - as hardly setting the world alight.

But the company commands attention because of the size of the jobs it takes on and its owner’s aim to make construction a world-class industry.

And for all the aversion to publicity of its chairman, the firm is remarkably candid about parts of its business where others - both public and private - are not.

It admits, for example, some of its staff take drugs.

It also pays well and is cutting accidents. Construction still has a perception of low pay and being dangerous to work in.

Pay staff well and cut accidents, the company is saying, and you will attract the best people. And it doesn’t need a think tank to tell it that.

To download a PDF of the average salaries by department click on the resource box on the right hand of the page.