A new survey has revealed that an increasing number of companies are opting to introduce pay freezes or have reduced pay increases to cope with tough economic conditions.

That is according to figures released by the Industrial Relations Services, which showed that the average pay increase among employers was just 2.6 per cent during the three months up to the end of February 2009.

Some 28 per cent of pay deals resulted in no increase in salary.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Sheila Attwood, editor of IRS Pay and Benefits, said: "The most common pay award so far this year is nil. However, the majority of organisations are still making pay awards, albeit at lower levels than a year ago."

She added: "We expect the median pay award to hover around its current position of 2.6 per cent over the next few months."

Vodafone has become the latest in a string of British employers to impose a pay freeze on its workforce.