A survey of 100 architecture firms has found that at least one in six employers are underpaying their staff.

The National Salary Survey, conducted by the Association of Consulting Architects (ACA), reported that 17 percent of architecture firms surveyed are paying award rates less than those specified in the 2010 Architects Award. This rate has increased from the 2016 survey, wherein it was found that 13 percent of firms were paying less than award rates.

The situation is worse still for both graduate students and women. 37 percent of firms surveyed – more than one in four – reported paying less than award rates for graduates. The study also found that disparity is still present between the pay rates of males and females working in architecture, with women on average receiving less than their male equivalents.

On average, females who have been registered as architects for six or more years are being paid almost 25 percent less than their male counterparts. The survey also found there are less women represented in senior roles within these firms.

The ACA expressed dismay at their findings from this year’s survey, pointing to the increase from last year’s rate as a source of particular concern.

“ACA is very concerned to note that some practices appear to still be paying below the minimums stipulated by the Architects Award, and that this trend has increased rather than decreased,” reads the association’s website.

“Once again, the ACA reiterates its reminder to practices. It is essential to understand the employer’s obligations under the [Architects] Award, and to understand that Award wages are a minimum.”

Alarmingly, the amounts quoted within the Award do not include superannuation. The ACA survey, on the other hand, does include superannuation, meaning the one in six figure is likely much higher than reported.

This report of underpayment comes at a time when there is growing concern about employee wellbeing within the architecture industry. Of particular note have been a number of recent discussions around expectations of long hours and a growing trend towards ‘hot-desking’.