The European Banking Authority, which sets the rules for banks in the 27 European Union countries, is thought to have approved proposals that would require a cap on bonuses for anyone whose pay is more than €500,000 (£420,000).
It is the latest proposed addition to the law published in March that will require bonuses for certain bank staff in the EU to be capped at 100% of their salary – or at 200% if shareholders give their approval.
The proposals, expected to be published early next week, would mark the first time a remuneration level had been published to define who are the "material risk takers" who will be subject to the bonus cap. In general, banks have been able to make their own calculations as to whom they regarded as the risk takers in the organisation.
"This expansion of the definition of risk takers will see substantially more individuals working in the banking industry being hit by tougher pay rules, including being subject to bonus caps from next year," said Jon Terry, a partner at accountants PwC.
"If the proposals are implemented as proposed, this will mean anyone earning over €500,000 will be deemed a risk taker irrespective of their role or impact on the risk of the firm," he said.
"This will significantly increase the number of employees subject to the bonus capping, to perhaps as much as ten times for some investment banks operating in London."
Barclays, which has provided a more detailed breakdown than any other bank of staff pay in 2012, paid some 1,338 people more than £500,000 – although this included bonuses. It described 393 as "code staff", meaning those regarded as taking or monitoring risk.
The chancellor, George Osborne, had attempted to head off the bonus cap when it was discussed in March for fear that it would damage the City. Andrew Bailey, the head of the Prudential Regulation Authority, the City's new banking regulator, has warned that a bonus cap could push up banking salaries by £500m a year.
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