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    Sydney architecture studio caught underpaying intern by almost $7,000

    Nathan Johnson

    Sydney-based D-Studio Architects underpaid a student intern by almost $7,000, a Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) investigation has found, although the firm has since paid the student back in full.

    According to the FWO, the male student, aged in his 20s, was completing a Master’s degree in 2013 when he began working for the firm as an unpaid intern. After a month he then worked full time on a pay-rate of $12 per hour for almost six months of full time work.

    However, the FWO says he was working above and beyond what constitutes the legal role of an intern, completing productive work for the firm such as architectural drawing, consulting with clients and conducting site visits.

    As the student’s work was not an official part of his studies, he therefore deserved to be paid the Architects Award 2010 wage of $16.37 per hour and then $21.19 an hour after he graduated—an extra $6,830 on top of what he received while working for D-Studio. 

    Under the same claim, he was entitled to annual leave entitlements and to be issued with pay slips, but he received neither.


    Related: ACA architecture salary survey reveals low wage increases and a gender pay gap in industry


    Under the same claim, he was entitled to annual leave entitlements and to be issued with pay slips, but he received neither.

    Following the investigation, the firm has back paid the employee in full, donated $500 to Interns Australia, and will commission an independent audit of its payment practices. It will also complete the online courses for employers on the FWO website, and agreed to sign an Enforceable Undertaking, promising future compliance with its workplace obligations.

    Simon Tso director of D-Studio was approached by Architecture & Design but said he was unable to comment due to legal reasons.

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