Some businesses are still handing out bonusesThe economic downturn has not signalled the end of the bonus, it has been claimed.

According to Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), financial bonuses are still being used to incentivise staff and help stimulate performance.

He said a number of businesses need to retain core staff and try to be competitive in “a difficult climate”.

As a result, many organisations are still “using performance bonuses as a way of incentivising because they are very, very, key to bringing in the business to your company”.

This may particularly apply to those working in business development and sales roles.

His comments come as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show average earnings including bonuses fell by 0.4 per cent in the three months to March 2009, compared to the same period of 2008.

The ONS found this decline is unprecedented since comparable records began in 1991 – and it is being attributed to the lower bonuses in the financial sector.