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Brady warning over new holiday pay rules

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New rules demanding firms recalculate holiday pay to take into account non-voluntary overtime ‘need to be taken very seriously’ by the profession, according to former RIBA president Angela Brady.

A ‘significant’ decision made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal last week held that holiday pay must be at a similar level to the pay employees actually receive while working – a move it has been claimed could add 3 per cent to companies’ payroll costs.

Brady said those ‘flouting the law needed to listen up’ and hit out at exploitative practices.

She added: ‘The RIBA [must] enforce its own rules and strike off from the chartered practice membership, those who exploit architect graduates.’

RIBA president Stephen Hodder said he would encourage anyone worried about fair pay to contact the institute.

‘As per the law, the RIBA requires that all students are paid at least the minimum wage for any PEDRable work.  RIBA recommends the living wage as a minimum fair payment and stands firmly against un-paid internships.

He added: ‘A formal complaint is essential in order for the RIBA to carry out a full and fair investigation into the non-payment of PEDRable work, however very few individuals have come forward. I encourage anyone concerned about fair pay and treatment to make contact with us directly.

‘We are further scrutinising the policing and enforcement of RIBA Chartered Practices professional conduct for all.’

Anyone wishing to make a formal complaint should email info@riba.org with the subject line ‘Professional Standards’

Comment

Gordon Gibb of Gibb Architects

‘The news about the rights of workers who do non-voluntary overtime and their accrual of holiday entitlement or pay is very important.

‘My experience as a PSA for the last ten years, reviewing the PEDR records and the comments by post-Part 1 and Part 2 year out students and candidates preparing for their Part 3 is that employment-related abuse of such persons is commonplace within architectural practices.  It is the norm for those training in practices en route to joining the profession to be required to undertake a substantial degree of overtime working, most often for no pay.  The reason for this is often the inadequate management planning activities or under-resourcing by the practice, often, but not necessarily, linked to low fees.  This is a view that has been echoed in the past by other members of the Association of Professional Studies Advisers in Architecture (APSAA), who, in their role, review a substantial proportion of the activities of our trainee registrants.  That is why I know that the abuse is widespread.  Of course, along with no additional pay, there is no entitlement to holiday pay or additional holiday time offered. 

‘The apparent necessity to remain competitive in the market place is no justification for such abuse in my view.  The fees agreed by the practice, and the profitability of the practice in the light of such negotiations, have nothing at all to do with an employer’s obligation to an employee.  Indeed it can be argued that low fees agreed by a practice are often predicated upon the expectation of being able to abuse the staff.   In my view, if the survival of the practice requires such activities to be allowed, it is the moral duty of the architects running that practice to let it fail.

‘If unpaid overtime was taken into consideration we would likely find that architectural assistants, and junior architects, are paid even less per hour than the miserable rates extrapolated from the annual salary surveys.  Therefore I would suggest that something needs to be done by those who represent our profession.  The ARB probably has no locus in this matter, unless the activity could be linked to under-resourcing.  Even so, considering the ARB’s consumer focus, it would be hard to justify a complaint with respect to an employee.  However, many of those who perpetrate this are RIBA Chartered Practices or Chartered Members.  Unfortunately the RIBA, which could take a stand with regard to the activities of its members, has done nothing at all to prevent such abuses.

‘It would be good if the RIBA would publicly declare against such practices.  I also look forward to an architect or architectural assistant having the strength of character to seek publicly, at an Employment Tribunal, compensation for the holiday pay that has accrued under the law and for payment for all services delivered.  A review of such an endeavour by a student would make an excellent case study for submission for the Part 3 examination and I, for one, would be happy to offer my services as PSA to guide the student through the ongoing examination process thereafter.’

 

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