EOFY: Remuneration resolutions

Leone Lorrimer , 4 July 2016

"Paying employees fairly is good business". Leone Lorrimer offers a series of resolutions to help ensure that architectural practices provide fair and equitable remuneration, and a set of resources to support them.

This is part of a call from the Australian Institute of Architects' National Committee for Gender Equity, which asks all architectural firms to take the initiative and review and reform their remuneration policies this end of financial year. The ACA supports this call and encourages all members to undertake a remuneration review.

People are at the heart of good design. It makes perfect sense that we treat our people fairly, in terms of what we pay them and how we behave towards them. Paying employees fairly is good business. Being equitably compensated makes employees feel valued, making for a happier, more productive workplace with higher employee retention.

As an employer, it can be difficult to understand one’s legal obligations around remuneration, and more so – what is fair. As the Australian Institute of Architects’ Gender Equity Policy points out, many instances of workplace inequality are unintentional and often unnoticed, but it’s not news that the accumulation of these acts has adverse effects on our industry.

The greater portion of architectural practice occurs in small firms, which do not have expertise in human resources management. However, these practices can access support from a range of organisations, including the Association of Consulting Architects' advisory service and Business Toolbox, which includes a range of salary resources and the Institute of Architects HR+ service, which is available to A+ members.

Being accountable for our own ethical and equitable employee practices is the only way to help our industry become more inclusive and sustainable. For the betterment of yourself, your employees and your colleagues, please join us in making the following remuneration resolutions.

Resolution 1: Pay Employees According to the Law

The Fair Work Ombudsman sets the Minimum Wage and the pay rates contained in Modern Awards. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, the Architects Award 2010 sets out minimum wages for Students, Graduates of Architecture and Registered Architects. The progression from Graduate to Registered Architect and beyond is clearly set out and addresses annual reviews, target setting, training and prescribed competencies.

The Act also sets ordinary hours and regulates payment for overtime and a casual loading. Other types of roles, such as clerical/administrative roles are covered by the Modern Award relevant to the role.

Awards most relevant to architectural practices are included on the ACA website, while all awards, along with the National Employment Standards, are freely available on the Fair Work Commission’s website.

The Superannuation Guarantee Levy is also federally legislated. Superannuation information can be found on the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website.

The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 requires all non-public sector employers with over 100 employees to report annually and offers advice and assistance to employers (including small practices) about improving gender equity in their workplace.

The Government, through Centrelink pays (means-tested) parental leave for primary caregivers (currently 18 weeks paid at the minimum wage) and secondary caregivers (currently 2 weeks paid at the minimum level). In addition, some companies have Paid Parental Leave policies, providing return to work incentives.

Resolution 2: Pay Employees Fairly

For employees remunerated at levels above those regulated by the minimum wage, some of the recruitment agencies conduct annual benchmark surveys relevant to the profession. These provide a guide to market levels of remuneration across a broad range of roles.

HR practice includes establishing clear organisational structures, role descriptions and articulation of career progression to every employee. Regular review and feedback to individuals is essential. Employees should be reviewed against development targets and each other and remuneration corrected for parity internally, and against external markets.

Internal parity takes into account the size of the role, accountability, effectiveness, potential and possible gender bias. Any imbalances should be corrected by adjustment of remuneration and/or role.

The Association of Consulting Architects provides model employment agreements, HR policy templates, the Know Your Award series of articles and many other employment resources and discussions. The Australian Institute of Architects also provides A+ members with a range of HR services, together with a range of resources that include strategies, templates and policies.

Parlour has published a series of world-class Guides to Equitable Practice. These include: Parlour Guide 2 – Long Hours addresses why the persistent long hours is damaging to individual architects, to businesses and to the viability of the profession. Parlour Guide 6 – Career Progression provides guidance on how to promote equitably, conduct effective performance reviews and set transparent criteria for success. For employees the guides assist you to plan your career and articulate your skills.

Resolution 3: Pay Employees Equitably

The Gender Pay Gap is one of the biggest problems our industry is currently facing and is a major contributor to our inability to retain women in the profession. Parlour Guide 1 – Pay Equity addresses how to close the Gender Pay Gap. It explains why pay equity is good for business and why persistent pay inequity can have a big negative impact on the morale, commitment and productivity of employees. Do an annual Pay Equity Audit. What better time than at the end of the Financial Year? The Parlour Guide takes you through a simple step by step process. Make sure that you factor in all types of payments, including bonuses and benefits. Reward output and productivity, not just visibility and volume. Treat full-time, flexible and part-time employees equally.

Resolution 4: If You Are an Employee

Parlour Guide 1 – Pay Equity outlines some great tips for employees as well:

  • Do your homework: know your rights
  • Check out potential employers
  • Keep track of your own performance and development
  • Learn to negotiate effectively
  • Step up and be visible
  • Look for opportunities
Facts and Figures

Minimum Annual Wages from 1 July 2016

Level 1 Student of Architecture $35,093 – 45,335

Level 1 Graduate of Architecture $47,721 – 52,765

Level 2(a) Experienced Graduate of Architecture $55,171

Level 2(b) Registered Architect $55,171 – $58,585

Minimum Weekly Wage for Award / agreement free employees from 1 July 2016 is $672.70 per week or $17.70 per hour.

Casual loading is 25% (paid in addition to the minimum hourly rate).

Superannuation Guarantee Levy is 9.5%. Additionally, benchmarking for wages can be sourced from employment agencies such as Bespoke, Hudson, and Hays to name a few of the larger organisations who both publish information on salaries. Salary guides

Members of the Association of Consulting Architects also have access to the annual ACA National Salary Survey report.

Leone Lorrimer is CEO of dwp|suters and a member of the Australian Institute of Architects National Committee for Gender Equity. This article is republished with permission from the Australian Institute of Architects website

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