More than half of Britain's biggest companies will freeze the salaries of their top management this year, according to Deloitte.
Many top executives face a further two-year salary freeze, even though two-thirds of UK executives were given no pay increase in 2009.
Even those lucky enough to receive a pay rise are likely to see their salaries increased by an average of only 3 per cent.
Stephen Cahill, a Deloitte partner, said the report showed the years of plenty were "well and truly over".
He added: "Companies are now recognising that increases for executives must be considered fair and reasonable in the context of current business circumstances and the pay and conditions for employees more generally."
Despite the pay restraint at executive level, Deloitte's research suggests some directors can look forward to sizeable bonuses.
At FTSE 100 companies, bonus payments are expected to hit "normal" levels after a dip last year.
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