Britain's top executives can look forward to retiring on at least 71 times the basic state pension for a married couple and can typically stop working at 60 without incurring any financial penalties, a new survey has suggested.
The research by the left-wing think-tank the Labour Research Department has argued that, while millions of workers face belt-tightening in their retirement, FTSE-100 executives can look forward to "super-enhanced" pension arrangements.
Its analysis of remuneration reports found that 112 FTSE-100 company directors are currently entitled to a pension worth at least £200,000 a year.
Twenty-seven of them can expect a pension of at least £500,000 a year – the equivalent of £9,615 a week, or 71 times the basic state pension for a married couple.
Top of the table of high pension earners is Lord Browne, chief executive of oil multinational BP, who would be on £991,000 or £19,058 a week if he retired tomorrow.
He is also eligible for a lump sum equal to a year's basic salary – if he stands down in late 2008, as expected, this would therefore be worth around £1.5 million.
The survey found that FTSE-100 directors can typically retire at 60 on a full pension.
Those at pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca can retire as early as 50 if it is at the company's request, while directors of financial services provider Friends Provident and energy group BG can retire at 55 with no reduction in their pension.
This compared with proposals in the British government's Pensions White Paper under which, by 2044, most workers would be expected to keep working until they are 68, said LRD.
More than three-quarters of the companies that make up the FTSE-100 index still had "final salary" schemes for their directors.
This was despite the fact that companies had been closing their final salary schemes to new employees, said LRD.
The remainder of the directors in the FTSE-100 had "defined contribution" schemes.
Although such pensions were open to fluctuations in the stock market, the level of contributions being put in by many companies for their directors made it unlikely they would face a difficult retirement.
It cited the example of mining group Xstrata, which more than tripled its contributions to chief executive Mick Davis' defined contribution plan last year, putting in £1.08 million.
Neal Moister, LRD researcher, said: "It is very hypocritical for so many senior business figures to advocate pushing the state pension age up and up while they negotiate a completely different set of rules for themselves.
"Many low-paid workers will have to work for many more years to receive a basic pension while FTSE-100 directors can look forward to a luxury retirement from the age of 60 if not younger," he added.