Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) has urged companies to restrict executive pay in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The governance analysis organisation said that "extreme disruption" to both company business operations and financial markets was likely to be "significant and to last for a prolonged period".
In a letter to UK company secretaries, PIRC managing director Alan MacDougall said company directors had a duty to respond "to their companies' financial circumstances appropriately, taking specific account of the crisis and impacts on their workforces".
It comes after the International Labour Organisation predicted unemployment could rise to 25 million globally, with lost income ranging from $860bn (£730bn) to $3.4trn.
MacDougall wrote: "As part of an appropriate response, PIRC urges all companies to review their approach to pay, and amounts to be paid to their executives, in the light of current events.
"Few, if any, executive pay schemes are likely to be appropriate for a company in current market circumstances and the health emergency. PIRC therefore calls on companies to suspend payments to executives other than basic salary from 1 April until the end of your financial year."
He noted that, if companies deem it appropriate to cut dividends and reduce workforces, then "it is difficult to understand how executive bonuses and long-term incentive plan awards - essentially based on last financial year - can be justified".
Restricting variable pay at board level would send a "positive signal" to the company and its workforce about the "need for shared sacrifice in these difficult times", he said.
PIRC will monitor developments on company pay policies this year, with its analysis contributing to its evaluation of executive pay schemes next year.
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